Report Addresses Vaccination Disparities in Older Adults

African-Americans and Hispanics less likely than whites to receive flu, pneumonia vaccination

THURSDAY, Dec. 16 (HealthDay News) -- Older African-Americans and Hispanics are much less likely than older whites to get vaccinated against influenza and pneumonia, according to a report by the American Lung Association, "Missed Opportunities: Influenza and Pneumonia Vaccination in Older Adults."

Katherine Pruitt, of the American Lung Association in Washington, D.C., and colleagues compiled the report to address racial and ethnic disparities among the millions of people over the age of 65 who are not vaccinated against influenza and pneumonia.

According to the report, African-Americans and Hispanics in this age group are 28 and 25 percent less likely, respectively, than whites to be vaccinated against influenza, and 37 and 47 percent less likely, respectively, to get pneumococcal vaccine. These two groups tend to be at higher risk for asthma, heart disease, and diabetes, which makes them more vulnerable to adverse complications and death from influenza and pneumonia. The report highlights possible explanations for the disparities and suggestions for overcoming them.

"This is a ticking time bomb. As baby boomers age, and the nation's elderly population rises, the toll of influenza and pneumonia will likely increase," Jim Gooden, National Volunteer Chair of the American Lung Association, said in a statement. "It's important that we address this health disparity now to prevent serious illness and save lives in the future."

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