Racial Disparities in Flu Vaccination: Implications for COVID-19 Vaccination Efforts

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With planning beginning for an eventual COVID-19 vaccine, one important consideration is making sure that distribution processes and outreach and communication strategies reach people of color. COVID-19 vaccination among people of color will be particularly important because they are bearing a heavy, disproportionate burden of the disease, and population immunity is not likely to be reached without high vaccination rates across all communities. However, doing so will require public health officials and providers to overcome a range of barriers to vaccination among people of color, many of which are rooted in a historic legacy of abuse and mistreatment by the medical system and ongoing racism and discrimination today.
Analysis of seasonal flu vaccination rates provides some insight into the potential barriers and issues to be addressed as part of COVID-19 vaccination efforts. Experts recommend an annual flu vaccination for all people age 6 months and older as the primary way to prevent sickness and death caused by the flu, and Healthy People 2030 national health objectives set a goal of vaccinating at least 70% of this population. Despite being widely recommended and fully covered as a preventive service under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), data show that overall flu vaccination rate remains low …

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