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Social contacts, vaccination decisions and influenza in Japan.

Abstract

Contact patterns and vaccination decisions are fundamental to transmission dynamics of infectious diseases. We report on age-specific contact patterns in Japan and their effect on influenza vaccination behaviour.

The mean and median reported numbers of daily contacts were 15.3 and 12.0, respectively. School-aged children and young adults reported the greatest number of daily contacts, and individuals had the most contacts with those in the same age group. The age-specific contact patterns were different between men and women, and differed between weekdays and weekends. Children had fewer contacts between the same age groups during weekends than during weekdays, due to reduced contacts at school. The probability of vaccination increased with the number of contacts, controlling for age and household size. Influenza infection among unvaccinated individuals was higher than for those vaccinated, and increased with the number of contacts.

Japanese adults (N=3146) were surveyed in Spring 2011 to assess the number of their social contacts within a 24 h period, defined as face-to-face conversations within 2 m, and gain insight into their influenza-related behaviour. We analysed the duration and location of contacts according to age. Additionally, we analysed the probability of vaccination and influenza infection in relation to the number of contacts controlling for individual's characteristics.

Contact patterns in Japan are age and gender specific. These contact patterns, as well as their interplay with vaccination decisions and infection risks, can help inform the parameterisation of mathematical models of disease transmission and the design of public health policies, to control disease transmission.

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