Narrowing Racial Gap in Elderly Vaccinations in New York County Credited to Outreach Program
The gap between blacks and whites older than age 65 who receive pneumonia and flu vaccinations in Monroe County, N.Y., is narrowing likely because of a five-year old outreach program, the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reports.
According to data from the Monroe County Adult Health Survey -- which includes responses from 2,000 elderly residents surveyed on a range of health topics and has not yet been released -- 70% of blacks reported receiving a flu shot in 2005, compared with 39% in 2000. Eighty-four percent of whites reported receiving the shot in 2005. In addition, 74% of blacks said they received a pneumococcal vaccine in 2005, compared with 42% in 2000.
Nancy Bennett, Monroe County's deputy health director and director of the Center for Community Health at the University of Rochester Medical Center, said much of the increase is because of the Racial and Ethnic Adult Disparities in Immunization Initiative, a federally funded effort to reduce racial health disparities, particularly among blacks. Besides Monroe County, four other sites nationwide have the program.
The program involves training outreach workers to educate the community on vaccinations and identifying patients who have not received recommended shots. The program in 2002 received $800,000 in funding, which lasted three years. Since then, the program has received $80,000 in funds from local insurers, but that "money has largely dried up" according to the Democrat and Chronicle.
Bennett said about $100,000 annually is needed to maintain the program. Jim Redmond, spokesperson for Excellus BlueCross BlueShield of the Rochester Region, said the company is considering allocating more funding to the program (Stanforth, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, 5/23).