A new study shows that a large number of African-Americans don’t get vaccinated for the flu, because they distrust the vaccine. The findings also suggest that whites think the flu is not a big deal and African-Americans were more concerned about getting vaccinated than the risks associated with the flu.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fewer than half of Americans gets vaccinated regardless of strong recommendations from the medical community. Only 41 percent of African-Americans get flu vaccines, as compared with 47 percent of whites.
Six researchers from the University of Maryland, University of Pittsburgh and University of Georgia conducted the study, which took place after the peak flu season. A total of 1,600 people, 800 African-Americans and 800 whites, agreed to participate in the study.
Sandra Crouse Quinn, a researcher at the University of Maryland, said low vaccination rates among African-Americans are contributed to many factors, with the most notable being distrust in health care, linked to past racism. She suggested doctors could benefit from cultural competency training.
The researchers concluded that the outreach campaigns should be more focused on educating the public about the flu vaccine and less about the health risks of the flu.
The disparities between African-Americans and whites were made clear long ago, so the findings were no surprise to the physicians at Kaiser Permanente of the Mid-Atlantic States. The group set up a free flu clinic at a barbershop in West Baltimore earlier this year, offering free flu vaccines to Baltimoreans in an effort to improve the vaccination rates.
“If you have any other chronic medical condition, if you get the flu, it is going to be bad news,” said Dr. Michael Horberg, executive director for research community benefit and Medicaid for Permanente Medical Group, Kaiser’s doctors group. “You’re not going to get just a touch of the flu.”