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Hispanic seniors get vaccinated less often

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Older Hispanic seniors are less likely to receive immunizations against the flu and pneumonia, according to a recent study by the RAND Corporation.

The influenza virus (or the "flu"), which infects up to 20 percent of the population during flu season, may be of greater danger to Hispanic senior citizens due to their decreased likelihood of getting immunized.

Older Hispanic people who generally speak Spanish and live in greater immigrant communities get immunized less often than the general population. Amelia M. Haviland, the lead author of this study, underlines the importance of reaching out to this demographic.

Decreasing the spread of the flu in one group helps to diminish infection across all demographics. Haviland's study looked at 244,000 senior citizens surveyed in 2008 and found that vaccination rates were lower for both influenza and pneumonia. This applied to both Spanish-speaking and English-speaking people of Hispanic descent.

For the pneumonia vaccination 74 percent of Caucasian seniors were immunized, while only 56 percent of English-speaking Hispanics and 40 percent of Spanish-speakers received the shot.

Flu vaccine rates were better: recipients were 76 percent white, 68 percent English-speaking Hispanics and 64 percent Spanish-speaking Hispanics.

The study reinforces Haviland's assertion that efforts need to be ramped up to educate Hispanic seniors on the importance of immunization. Reaching out through the use of Spanish language may be an ideal first step in crossing these cultural barriers.

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Review Date: 
January 25, 2011
Last Updated:
October 8, 2012