A Persistent Racial Disparity for Adults Who Receive Flu Shots

A new study led by Professor Sandra Crouse Quinn a professor at the University of Maryland School of Public Health finds a continuing racial disparity in percentages of adults who receive flu shots. The data shows that efforts to address the racial disparity have had little effect.

The statistics show that 39 percent of African American adults get annual flu shots compared to nearly half of White American adults.

Professor Quinn reports that “the social, cultural and historical contexts in which African Americans and Whites make healthcare decisions are quite different. We found that African Americans had a higher degree of skepticism of the flu vaccine and the process of creating the vaccine, which was related to their experience of racial bias and an awareness about racial disparities in the healthcare setting.”

“Our survey results validate that racial factors are more relevant for African Americans and make a big difference in whether people choose to be vaccinated,” Dr. Quinn continued. “This has important implications for how we train health care providers to talk with patients about the vaccine. Our race makes a difference in how we see the world and how the world sees us. The extent to which people perceive they are being treated fairly and respectfully, and that the information about vaccination is tailored to them may have a big impact on how people perceive the flu vaccine and the likelihood that they will take it.”

The article, “Exploring Racial Influences on Flu Vaccine Attitudes and Behavior: Results of a National Survey of White and African American Adults,” was published on the website of the journal Vaccine. It may be accessed here.


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