About 1 in 3 adult Californians get the flu shot each year, but the rates of immunization vary by race and ethnicity, and a new study by UCLA researchers shows the rate is lowest among African-Americans.
By the numbers:
- Koreans and Vietnamese reported the highest rates: 49 percent and 47 percent
- Whites, Chinese, Japanese and Latinos were all in the same range: 40 percent
- African-Americans ranked lowest: 29 percent
The study was published Friday in the American Journal of Infection Control.The study is based on the California Health Interview Survey conducted in 2011-2012.
The study adjusted for economic and insurance access factors to identify if there were other reasons keeping people away from the flu shot, says lead researcher Dr. Christopher Almorio.
Almorio said the gap in the African-American community deserves to be examined further.
"The fact there is still a difference tells us there is something else underlying it, more likely their attitude toward the vaccine, their thoughts on preventative care in general, fears on getting the vaccine," said Almorio, who is assistant professor of medicine at Cedars Sinai.
This is not a new challenge. Previous surveys have found low rates of immunization in the community, Almorio said.
"There’s been a number of other studies that show African Americans are more likely to believe they are going to get the flu from the vaccine and also more likely to doubt the vaccines effectiveness," he said.
Researchers say strong public health infrastructure and community-based organizations are needed to help educate the community about the vaccine and how it not only protects the individual but it also protects those around them, researchers say.
LA County Public Health is planning a dozen flu outreach events in the fall in South LA, Watts and Compton at African-American churches, senior centers and farmers markets. The agency also hosts an annual free clinic at Care Harbor each year that includes the flu vaccine.