Original Research

Uptake and cost of influenza vaccines in a private health insured South African population

Geetesh Solanki, Morna Cornell, Ratilal Lalloo
Southern African Journal of Infectious Diseases | Vol 33, No 5 | a138 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajid.v33i5.138 | © 2019 Ratilal Lalloo, Geetesh Solanki, Morna Cornell | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 30 May 2019 | Published: 20 August 2018

About the author(s)

Geetesh Solanki, Health System Research Unit, Medical Research Council of South Africa, Cape Town; Health Economics Unit, Department of Public Health, University of Cape Town; Towers Watson, Cape Town;, South Africa
Morna Cornell, Centre for Infectious Disease Epidemiology & Research, School of Public Health & Family Medicine, University of Cape Town, Cape Town; Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Public Health & Family Medicine, University of Cape Town, Cape Town;, South Africa
Ratilal Lalloo, School of Dentistry, The University of Queensland, Herston, Queensland;, Australia

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Background: Influenza vaccination is regarded as the most effective form of prevention and is particularly recommended for individuals at increased risk of developing severe influenza. Data on uptake (coverage) and costs in South Africa are limited.
Methods: This study examined influenza vaccination uptake amongst South African private health insurance scheme members. All claims received for services rendered in 2015 were collated at an individual level and the claims related to the provision of influenza vaccines were analysed.
Results: Of the almost 520 000 members, overall 5.0% (95% CI 4.9%; 5.1%) received the influenza vaccine in 2015. Priority risk groups such as pregnant women, older adults and those with a medical condition were significantly more likely to be vaccinated, as were members belonging to insurance schemes that offered a specific influenza vaccine benefit. The average cost of providing the vaccination was R350.
Conclusions: Influenza vaccination coverage was low in this privately insured population. There were more members vaccinated in the priority risk groups. There is an urgent need to implement strategies to increase this coverage in privately insured South Africans.


influenza; private health insurance; South Africa; uptake; vaccination


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