Shortages linked with ethnic immunizations

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Delays or limits in the supply of flu vaccines can exacerbate disparities in vaccination rates among elderly whites, African-Americans and Hispanics, according to a study conducted by researchers at the University of Rochester and published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

The researchers, led by medical professor Yoo Byung-Kwang, found that the disparities in vaccination rates within the elderly population can widen by two to seven percentage points in years when problems with the vaccine supply emerge, depending on the severity of the problem, while narrowing by two to 11 percentage points when there are adequate supplies.

Yoo and the other researchers used data from the “Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey” and examined seasonal influenza vaccination rates from 2000 to 2005. Overall vaccination rates were more than 70% for whites, compared with 43% to 63% for blacks; among Hispanics, those who spoke English had vaccination rates of 58% to 75%, compared with 31% to 53% among those who spoke only Spanish.

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