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Uptake of Seasonal Influenza Vaccine Lower Among Minorities

THURSDAY, March 4, 2021 -- Among Medicare beneficiaries, there are considerable racial and ethnic disparities in seasonal influenza vaccine (SIV) uptake, with lower uptake for Blacks, Asians, and Hispanics versus Whites, according to a study published online Feb. 18 in The Lancet Healthy Longevity.

Salaheddin M. Mahmud, M.D., from the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada, and colleagues conducted a historical record-linkage cohort study using Medicare for all older adults (≥65 years) enrolled during July 1, 2015, to June 30, 2016 to assess racial and ethnic disparities in SIV uptake.

The researchers found that 47.4 percent of the 26.5 million beneficiaries in the study cohort received an SIV, of whom 52.7 percent received a high-dose vaccine (HDV). Hispanic, Black, and Asian beneficiaries were less likely to be vaccinated than White beneficiaries (29.1, 32.6, and 47.6 versus 49.4 percent, respectively), and when vaccinated, they were less likely to receive an HDV (37.8, 41.1, and 40.3 percent versus 53.8 percent, respectively). After accounting for region, income, chronic conditions, and health care use, among those vaccinated, minority groups were less likely to receive an HDV compared with White people (odds ratios, 0.68, 0.71, and 0.74 for Black, Asian, and Hispanic people, respectively).

"Inequities could not be fully explained by differences in sociodemographic factors, vaccine indications, and health care use patterns," the authors write. "New legislative, fiscal, educational, and research strategies are urgently needed to address vaccine uptake inequities."

Several authors disclosed financial ties to pharmaceutical companies, including Sanofi Pasteur, which funded the study.

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