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Patients of Female Doctors More Likely to Receive Flu Vaccine

MONDAY, April 19, 2021 -- Medicare patients of female physicians are more likely than patients of male physicians in the same practice to receive the influenza vaccine, according to a research letter published online April 12 in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Dan P. Ly, M.D., Ph.D., from the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, used Medicare claims data (2006 through 2016) to estimate differences in influenza vaccination rates by patient race and sex between patients of female and male physicians working in the same outpatient practice.

Ly found that adjusting for patient characteristics only, Black patients were 13.5 percentage points less likely and Hispanic patients 4.6 percentage points less likely than White patients to be vaccinated, while Asian patients were 2.3 percentage points more likely to be vaccinated. When adjusting for physician characteristics, patients of female physicians were more likely than patients of male physicians in the same outpatient practice to be vaccinated across all race-sex subgroups. This represents about 10 percent of the Black-White gap and about 30 percent of the Hispanic-White gap in influenza vaccination rates.

"Understanding contributors to these vaccination differences may provide insights into improving vaccination efforts for influenza and other diseases, particularly among minority patients," Ly writes.

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