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Health Disparities And Prevention: Racial/ethnic Barriers To Flu Vaccinations


To address the widening disparity between Whites and non-Whites for influenza vaccination rates, this study employed the Health Belief Model to examine these rates in five racial ethnic groups (White, Latino, African American, Filipino American, and Japanese American) to identify modifiable determinants of vaccination by race/ethnicity. A 2004 telephone survey of parishioners of faith-based congregations aged 50–75 years in Los Angeles and Honolulu assessed influenza vaccination rate, perceived susceptibility to influenza, perceived severity of illness, and the self-reported main barrier to influenza vaccination. Logistic regression models for each race/ethnic group predicting vaccination dependent upon perceived susceptibility to influenza, perceived severity of illness, and sociodemographic characteristics were estimated. Model parameters were used to generate standardized predictions of vaccination rates by race/ethnic group. In the multivariate models, Whites and African Americans who were very concerned about getting the flu were significantly more likely to be vaccinated (96% and 91%, respectively), compared with those who were not concerned (45% and 33%). However, vaccination rates among Latinos who were very concerned about getting the flu (54%), although significantly higher than Latinos who were not concerned (34%), were lower than for Whites and African Americans. Examination of the main barriers to vaccination revealed that Latinos were more likely to report access and cost barriers, while African Americans were more likely to raise issues of mistrust such as concern that the vaccine causes influenza. Distinct barriers to influenza vaccination exist among racial/ethnic groups. Vaccination programs may benefit from addressing these specific and unique concerns.

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This material was supported by the National Institute of Health, National Cancer Institute, award 2 R01 CA65880, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

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Correspondence to Judy Y. Chen MD.

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Chen, J.Y., Fox, S.A., Cantrell, C.H. et al. Health Disparities And Prevention: Racial/ethnic Barriers To Flu Vaccinations. J Community Health 32, 5–20 (2007).

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  • disparity
  • influenza vaccine
  • latino
  • African American
  • Japanese
  • Filipino