Health leaders fear minorities are avoiding H1N1 vaccine

DETROIT — Whether it's mistrust of the government or confusion in the message, minorities aren't lining up to get vaccinated against H1N1 as they should, a group of federal health care officials said Dec. 3, according to a story in the Detroit Free Press.

And if they skip those doses, they're "playing the odds," said Raymond Strikas, a medical officer at the National Vaccine Program Office.

The delegation visited Detroit to discuss the reasons that some groups might not be lining up for vaccines.

Though data aren't yet available about H1N1 vaccination levels among minority groups, previous surveys suggest minorities are vaccinated for seasonal flu at a slower rate, Strikas and others said.

Some think they can beat the odds, and some may lack the information or resources, they said. For others, it's a distrust of the government, said Dr. Corey Hebert, who frequently appears on television and radio for medical stories.

African Americans sometimes note the Tuskegee Experiment in explaining their reluctance to trust government information, Hebert said, referring to the U.S. Public Health Service's experiment on 399 impoverished and black men in the late stages of syphilis. The men were allowed to die in the name of research.

He suggested reaching out to religious leaders and schools to make sure communities are vaccinated.