HHS says doctors and minorities mistrust vaccines

The recent H1N1 swine flu pandemic has revealed a dangerous mistrust of vaccines in doctors and minorities, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced on Monday.

The United States still retained "unprecedented" levels of flu vaccination over the past season, Sebelius said, thanks in part to almost $500 million in government funding to improve decades-old influenza vaccine technology.

"We shouldn't have to convince health providers that vaccines are safe and that they work," Sebelius said at a meeting at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta according to Reuters. "But, despite the fact that we had more health providers than ever getting vaccinated last year, there was still a sizable number who did not."

Sebelius told the assembled participants that less than 40 percent of doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers are vaccinated for flu in an average year. Sebelius told that audience to urge healthcare workers to get vaccinated.

Of the 162 million doses of influenza vaccine doses shipped nationwide, only 90 million doses were administered with minorities generally left out.

"Too many people in these communities still don't believe that vaccines are safe, or even that they work," Sebelius said. "But with so many African Americans, Hispanics, American Indians, and others experiencing rising rates of chronic disease, not getting vaccinated is many times more dangerous than even the perceived threat of the vaccine."

Twelve thousand Americans were killed by H1N1, the CDC estimates, and more than 265,000 people were hospitalized.