"Some also thought -- as do many members of the public -- that the vaccines cause the flu. If they became sick with a virus of one kind or other around the time they had a flu shot," he says, "they drew the erroneous conclusion that the shot made them sick.
"This is a common misperception and one that needs to be corrected," Rintamaki adds. "We often tell people the vaccine doesn't 'cause' flu but in failing to address why they might assume that it does, we leave the door open for them to think they are avoiding illness by avoiding the vaccine."
The researchers say better and more targeted messages and interventions are necessary to address concerns specific to older African Americans and to emphasize how important it is for those in this age group to be vaccinated.
The study involved six focus groups of African American seniors in the Chicago area. Their average age was 75 and 85 percent of them were women. They were asked to identify their current perceptions about influenza and influenza vaccination.
Seventy-seven percent of participants said they had received the flu vaccine at some time in their life, but only 50 percent had been vaccinated the previous year.
Despite the group size and the fact that their responses cannot be projected to the community as a whole, the authors say the results of the study confirm those conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and others.
Some disturbing news to emerge from the study, says Rintamaki, is that the infamous Tuskegee syphilis experiments continue to affect levels of trust among African Americans toward public health programs.
The Tuskegee experiments, whose original goal was to justify treatment programs for blacks, involved 399 African American sharecroppers infected with syphilis. In 1932, when the study began, the available treatments were highly toxic and of limited effectiveness. The study aimed to determine if patients were bet
|Contact: Patricia Donovan|
University at Buffalo