Motives of Dutch persons aged 50 years and older to accept vaccination: a qualitative study

Renske Eilers, Paul F M Krabbe, Hester E de Melker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


BACKGROUND: Elderly in several European countries are currently being vaccinated against influenza and pneumococcal disease, and various reasons have been put forward to expand these programs. To successfully immunize the older adult population, however, it is crucial for the target group to accept such interventions. This study aims to elucidate the motives of Dutch persons aged ≥ 50 years for accepting vaccination.

METHODS: Thirteen focus groups were composed with persons aged 50 years and older. A semi-structured topic list with open-ended questions was used to guide the focus groups. The transcripts were analyzed according the principles of thematic survey. By an inductive process, the main themes and related subthemes were extracted from the responses.

RESULTS: Eight themes were found to play an important role in accepting vaccination: healthy aging; usefulness of vaccination in older age; risk of getting an infectious disease; vaccine characteristics; severity of the disease and its implications; the experiences of previous vaccinations; the influence of healthcare workers and other people; and the need for information.

CONCLUSIONS: This qualitative study reveals that acceptance of vaccination is not based on a single argument. The most important one appears to be the risk of getting an infectious disease. In that light, vaccination campaigns may emphasize the susceptibility of older adults. It is also advisable to consider the usefulness of vaccination in older age as an overall argument. A tailored approach to offering vaccination may be considered. Further research would be needed to determine the relative importance of the factors identified in this study.

Original languageEnglish
Article number493
Number of pages10
JournalBMC Public Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 16 May 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Netherlands
  • age factors
  • aged
  • aged 80 and over
  • attitude
  • epidemiology
  • focus groups
  • gender factors
  • health knowledge
  • humans
  • influenza vaccines
  • middle aged
  • motivation
  • pneumococcal vaccines
  • practice
  • psychologic aspects
  • qualitative research
  • questionnaires
  • surveys
  • therapeutic use
  • vaccination


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