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Survey Shows Fewer Hispanic Seniors Getting Flu Shots

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 26 (HealthDay News) -- Hispanic seniors in the United States are less likely than their white counterparts to be vaccinated against flu and pneumonia, a new study has found.

Researchers from the nonprofit RAND Corp. analyzed data from more than 244,000 seniors who took part in a 2008 Medicare survey and found that lifetime immunization rates for pneumonia were 74 percent for whites, 56 percent for English-speaking Hispanics and 40 percent for Spanish-speaking Hispanics.

Vaccination rates for seasonal flu were 76 percent for whites, 68 percent for English-speaking Hispanics and 64 percent for Spanish-speaking Hispanics, the study reported.

"All Hispanic seniors are less likely to become immunized, and we found the problem seems to be the worst in new immigrant communities where Spanish is the predominant language," lead author and statistician Amelia M. Haviland said in a RAND news release. "These findings suggest new strategies may be needed to target an important problem."

She and her colleagues found that communities where there was a long-standing Hispanic population had significantly smaller disparities in flu vaccination rates. In addition, Hispanic seniors enrolled in Medicare Advantage Plans had higher pneumonia immunization rates than those in traditional fee-for-service Medicare plans, regardless of language preference.

The study was published in the Jan. 24 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

More information

The U.S. National Institute on Aging has more about vaccinations for seniors.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: RAND Corp., news release, Jan. 24, 2011

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