Flu vaccination communication in Europe: What does the government communicate and how?

Anne Wiebke Ohlrogge*, L. Suzanne Suggs

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Introduction: The Flu vaccine is the most effective measure to prevent influenza. Yet, vaccination rates remain at sub-optimal levels, with 10%-29% coverage rates in the general population of the EU. As mistrust in vaccines has increased, effective strategies are needed and one is communication. The aim of this research is to identify vaccination recommendations of the health ministries in 5 European Member States and to investigate the communication strategies used.

Methods: Two methods were employed in this study. A review of flu vaccination recommendations in the European Union and five Members States (Austria, Germany, Malta, Ireland and United Kingdom). Next a content analysis was conducted of flu vaccination communication in those six contexts.

Results and discussion: All countries recommend flu vaccination as a primary protection tool, but they differed in their recommendations for various target audiences. Channels for communication included seven websites and 42 other materials. The main messages used were gained framed promoting protection, either for oneself, family or patients. Most communications provided basic information replying on providing facts and knowledge about the flu and the benefits of vaccination. No information on the development of the communication or its effects were found.

Conclusion: Communicating flu vaccination as a protective tool is common across countries and is consistent with the benefits of vaccination. Furthermore, the communications in the countries were not consistent with their recommendations. As the recommendations vary across and within countries, communication becomes a challenge. They should, at a minimum, be consistent with EU and country specific recommendations. (C) 2018 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6512-6519
Number of pages8
Issue number44
Publication statusPublished - 22 Oct 2018


  • Vaccination behaviour
  • Health communication
  • Flu vaccination
  • Social marketing
  • Europe

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