Nursing home influenza vaccination rates lagging

Nursing home influenza vaccination rates in the United States are significantly lower than rates set by U.S. regulators and are lower still for black residents, a new report has revealed.

According to a study conducted by Brown University that appears in the journal Health Affairs, nursing home influenza rates from 2007-2008 averaged 82.75 percent, lower than the 90 percent average expected by Medicare and Medicaid, according to ThirdAge.com.

The rates for African-American nursing home residents were even lower, hovering at around 77.75 percent. All of the rates in 2007-2008 were slightly higher than those in 2006-2007.

"One reason you would potentially see a difference is that blacks and whites are by and large served by different nursing homes and there's lots of evidence to suggest that blacks are served in nursing homes that are not as good," researcher Vincent Mor, a professor of health services and policy at Brown University, said, ThirdAge.com reports.

Disparities between the vaccination rates of white and black nursing home residents also exist within the same nursing homes. Black residents are also more likely to refuse inoculation, the report says.

During the period of the study, 12.88 percent African-Americans refused the flu shot, compared to 8.93 percent of whites. In nursing homes, African-Americans were shown to be 15 percent less likely to be vaccinated.

"Strategies are needed to ensure that facilities offer vaccination to all residents and to make vaccination more acceptable to black residents and their families," the authors wrote, ThirdAge.com reports.