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J Fam Pract. 2007 Nov;56(11):925-9.

How can you improve vaccination rates among older African Americans?

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  • 1Community Health, Saint Louis University School of Public Health, 3545 Lafayette Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63104, USA.



Adults 65 and older are at greatest risk for complications and death from influenza, yet one third of those at risk do not receive the influenza vaccine; African American vaccination rates are even lower. This study explored older African Americans' concerns about getting the flu vaccine and vaccine providers' level of awareness of these concerns.


Focus groups and in-depth interviews were conducted among African Americans who were 50 years of age and older, and vaccine providers.


Older African Americans' fear of getting the flu from vaccination was widespread, as were concerns about vaccine interaction with medications and allergic reactions. Older African Americans also doubted the vaccine's effectiveness, and distrusted both the vaccine and the healthcare system. For their part, providers understood patients' concerns and recognized that fear of illness caused by the shot was a major issue. They did not, however, recognize the importance of asking about, and discussing, patients' fears of allergies and medication interactions when administering the vaccine.


In order to improve vaccination rates among older African Americans, health care providers would be wise to take the time to discuss the vaccine and address vaccine efficacy, safety, side effects, and drug interactions.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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