Black teenagers less likely to get flu shots, study finds

Black adolescents have significantly lower flu vaccination rates than white or Hispanic teenagers, according to a study published in Public Health Reports.

For the study, researchers from Florida State University in Tallahassee examined the vaccination histories of 117,273 adolescents using 2010-16 data from the CDC's National Immunization Survey for teens.

Hispanic teenagers were more likely to receive a flu shot than white adolescents, but black teenagers were less likely. Researchers noted vaccination disparities started to emerge in 2014, which marked the start of a particularly severe flu season.

"It was also a time when Congress began to cut access and states refrained from expanding Medicaid," Benjamin Dowd-Arrow, a graduate student at FSU and study author, said in a press release. "The people most affected by the highest rates of illness and death are also the people who are most likely to be affected by poverty. The consequences of not getting vaccinated further marginalizes and places a burden on people who really can't afford that."

Researchers concluded healthcare providers must implement targeted interventions to improve flu vaccination rates among teenagers and reduce racial or ethnic disparities.

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