OBJECTIVES: To compare the prevalence of influenza and pneumococcal immunization rates according to sex in a national sample of older veterans in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) healthcare system.
DESIGN: Retrospective, cross-sectional.
SETTING: VA healthcare system.
PARTICIPANTS: Current VA healthcare system users aged 65 and older eligible for immunization in fiscal years 2001 to 2003 (N=48,424 patient records).
MEASUREMENTS: Generalized estimating equations were performed to analyze combined chart review and administrative data to determine effect of sex on receipt of influenza and pneumococcal immunizations.
RESULTS: Unadjusted immunization rates were higher for men than women for influenza (73% vs 69%) and pneumococcal (87% vs 83%) vaccine. Adjusting for demographics, clinical comorbidities, use, and region, women had significantly lower odds of influenza (odds ratio (OR)=0.85, 95% confidence interval (CI=0.79–0.92) and pneumococcal (OR=0.77, 95% CI=0.71–0.84) immunization.
CONCLUSION: Older female veterans have lower rates of immunization than older male veterans in VA settings. Although VA remains above community levels for immunization, older female veterans will benefit from targeted efforts to increase immunization prevalence.