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MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2003 Oct 10;52(40):958-62.

Racial/ethnic disparities in influenza and pneumococcal vaccination levels among persons aged > or =65 years--United States, 1989-2001.


Influenza and pneumococcal diseases are key causes of mortality among persons aged > or =65 years, accounting for approximately 36,000 and 3,400 deaths per year, respectively, during 1990-1999. Substantial racial/ethnic disparities in adult vaccination have been documented in national surveys. Although the national health objective for 2000 of 60% receipt of influenza vaccination during the preceding 12 months by persons aged > or =65 years (objective no. 20.11) was met in 1997, and the objective of 60% for pneumococcal vaccination was nearly met in 2000, vaccine coverage levels among non-Hispanic blacks and Hispanics were 31% and 30%, respectively, compared with 57% for non-Hispanic whites. To characterize these disparities, CDC analyzed data from the 2000 and 2001 National Health Interview Surveys (NHIS) and examined trends in NHIS results for 1989-2001. This report summarizes the results of these analyses, which indicate that marked differences in vaccination coverage by race/ethnicity are observed even among persons most likely to be vaccinated (e.g., persons with the highest education level and persons with frequent visits to health-care providers). Racial/ethnic disparities in influenza and pneumococcal vaccination coverage have persisted over time. Several approaches to reduce these disparities are needed, including increasing demand for vaccination among racial/ethnic minority populations and the use of standing orders and other systems changes that promote vaccination.

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