Background: A large portion of the elderly population of the United States fails to receive an annual influenza vaccination. Minorities may receive disproportionately fewer vaccinations. The objectives of this study were to (a) estimate the levels of influenza vaccination among noninstitutionalized, U.S. citizens, 65 years and older, (b) examine the immunization levels among minority racial and ethnic groups relative to various majority groupings, and (c) explore potential factors that may contribute to disparities in vaccination levels.
Methods: We analyzed data from the 1996 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey to compare influenza vaccination levels of different racial and ethnic groups among 2,309 persons aged 65 years and older.
Results: Whites had 68.0% (+/- SE 1.5%) current influenza vaccination, Hispanics 61.7% (+/- SE 4.1%), and blacks 47.3% (+/- SE 4.3%). Blacks differed significantly compared to whites. Adjustment for potential confounders such as increased health risk, age distribution, perceived health status, family size, poverty level, and the number of ambulatory visits to a health care provider failed to change this difference substantially.
Conclusions: In 1996, among elderly noninstitutionalized, U.S. citizens, blacks relative to whites were less likely to have current influenza vaccinations. This relationship remained significant even after adjustments for potential confounding variables.
Copyright 2002 American Health Foundation and Elsevier Science (USA).