In Canada, flu vaccination rates differ by ethnicity

A recent study found that influenza vaccination rates vary drastically in Canada by ethnicity, with white and black Canadians the least likely to receive vaccinations.

The researchers took data from the 2003, 2005, 2007, 2008 and 2009 cycles of the Canadian Community Health Survey that included 437,488 people and 12 ethnic groups. The study, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, found that Canadians of Filipino descent (41 percent), Japanese descent (38 percent) and Chinese descent (35 percent) were much more likely to get vaccinated than white Canadians (32 percent) and black Canadians (27 percent), Medical News Today reports.

"Our results show that all ethnic groups, with the exception of black Canadians, had significantly higher uptake of influenza vaccination than white Canadians," Susan Quach and Jeffrey Kwong, the lead author and principal investigator of the study, said, according to Medical News Today. "Variations in coverage levels persisted even after adjusting for other determinants of vaccine uptake, which suggests that there may be unique barriers and misconceptions influencing these groups differently."

The researchers suggest that the variance between ethnic groups for vaccination could be related to reasons such as exposure to and support of anti-vaccination media messages.

"Our findings should not understate the importance of tackling issues of sociodemographics and access to health care that influence uptake and extend across all ethnic groups in Canada," the authors said, according to Medical News Today. "To ensure optimal vaccine coverage, it will be important for public health to work with health care providers, clients and community-based organizations to understand the unique challenges and barriers that affect their communities, and to design appropriate interventions for different populations."

In a related commentary, Bradford Gessner of the Agence de Médecine Préventive said that the most important thing to take away from the study was that vaccination coverage was low for influenza in nearly all groups. According to Gessner, to correct the problem, public health agencies should develop strategies to address influenza risk factors, Medical News Today reports.