Racial Disparity Persists in Nursing Home Flu Shot Rates

Black residents less likely to receive, more likely to refuse influenza shots than white residents

FRIDAY, Oct. 7 (HealthDay News) -- The rate of flu vaccination in nursing homes improved from 2006 to 2009, particularly for blacks, but they remain less likely to receive and more likely to refuse vaccination than white residents, according to a study published in the October issue of Health Affairs.

Shubing Cai, M.D., from Brown University in Providence, R.I., and colleagues investigated racial differences in the receipt of flu vaccinations among nursing home residents. Data were collected from the 2006 to 2009 national Minimum Data Set, and from the 2007 to 2008 Online Survey Certification and Reporting system. In addition to sociodemographic characteristics of residents, and information about their health and physical functioning, the vaccination status and reasons for not having been vaccinated were assessed.

The investigators found that the vaccination rates showed a small improvement among nursing home residents, especially for blacks. Among the nursing home residents, blacks remained less likely to be vaccinated than whites, and the overall vaccination rates remained below the 90 percent target for high quality care. Within the same facility, blacks were less likely to be vaccinated than whites, and they had higher odds of living in a facility with lower vaccination rates. In addition, blacks were more likely to refuse vaccination.

"Flu vaccination rates in nursing homes have improved, particularly for black residents, over a fairly short period of time. Nonetheless, racial differences persist," the authors write.

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