Flu vaccination rates vary widely by ethnicity in Canada

September 10, 2012

Influenza vaccination rates vary widely in Canada by ethnicity, with black and white Canadians being the least likely to be vaccinated, found a new study in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

Research on among ethnic minorities in Canada is scarce, despite many studies in the United States showing clear in vaccination rates among minorities and whites. However, the findings are not the same in Canada given existing differences in vaccine delivery and populations.

Canadian researchers undertook a study to estimate coverage across 12 in Canada. They looked at nationally representative data from the 2003, 2005, 2007, 2008 and 2009 cycles of the Canadian Community including 437 488 people aged 12 years and older. People representing 12 ethnic groups made up 18% of the sample.

The authors found that Canadians of Filipino (41%), Japanese (38%) and Chinese (35%) backgrounds had much higher vaccination rates than white Canadians (32%) and black Canadians (27%). In people with chronic disease, rates ranged from 34% to 50%.

"Our results show that all ethnic groups, with the exception of black Canadians, had significantly higher uptake of influenza vaccination than white Canadians," writes lead author Susan Quach and principal investigator Dr. Jeffrey Kwong and coauthors. "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 varying rates of vaccination between ethnic groups in Canada could be related to many reasons such as exposure to and support of antivaccination messages in the media.

"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," conclude the authors. "To ensure optimal , 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."

The research was conducted at the Statistics Canada Research Data Centre and Public Health Ontario, with funding from the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR) and the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) through the PHAC/CIHR Influenza Research Network.

In a related commentary, Dr. Bradford Gessner, Agence de Médecine Préventive, Paris, France suggests that local context may explain the varying rates of vaccination. "This may include access to vaccination programs, attitudes of local clinicians, access to the Internet, the importance of the antivaccine movement, media reporting and bias, actual or perceived prevalence of disease in a population, and assessment of individual risk."

"Rather than focus on race and ethnicity, I suggest a different approach," writes Dr. Gessner. "First, we should acknowledge that vaccination coverage for is low in almost all groups, the optimal target groups are not yet well-defined, and target groups and risk factors for low coverage will vary with place and time. For these reasons, national and local public health agencies should develop interventions that address risk factors at the appropriate level and for all people."

Explore further: Pediatric flu vaccination: Understanding low acceptance rates could help increase coverage

More information: www.cmaj.ca/lookup/doi/10.1503/cmaj.111628
Commentary: www.cmaj.ca/lookup/doi/10.1503/cmaj.120775

Related Stories

Pediatric flu vaccination: Understanding low acceptance rates could help increase coverage

April 28, 2011
A study of H1N1 and seasonal influenza vaccination in a sample of black and Hispanic children in Atlanta found a low rate of vaccine acceptance among parents and caregivers. Only 36 percent of parents and caregivers indicated ...

Canada needs a vaccine seroepidemiology surveillance system

November 14, 2011
Canada should establish a vaccine seroepidemiology surveillance network to better understand the effectiveness of vaccination programs, according to an analysis in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

Recommended for you

Urine test developed to test for tuberculosis

December 14, 2017
(Medical Xpress)—An international team of researchers has developed a urine test that can be used to detect tuberculosis (TB) in human patients. In their paper published in Science Translational Medicine, the group describes ...

40 years after first Ebola outbreak, survivors show signs they can stave off new infection

December 14, 2017
Survivors of the first known Ebola outbreak, which occurred in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1976, may be key to development of vaccines and therapeutic drugs to treat future outbreaks, according to a new study ...

Aging impairs innate immune response to flu

December 13, 2017
Aging impairs the immune system's response to the flu virus in multiple ways, weakening resistance in older adults, according to a Yale study. The research reveals why older people are at increased risk of illness and death ...

Lyme bacteria survive 28-day course of antibiotics months after infection

December 13, 2017
Bay Area Lyme Foundation, a leading sponsor of Lyme disease research in the US, today announced results of two papers published in the peer-reviewed journals PLOS ONE and American Journal of Pathology, that seem to support ...

Drug blocks Zika, other mosquito-borne viruses in cell cultures

December 12, 2017
If there was a Mafia crime family of the virus world, it might be flaviviruses.

Study seeks to aid diagnosis, management of catatonia

December 11, 2017
Catatonia, a syndrome of motor, emotional and behavioral abnormalities frequently characterized by muscular rigidity and a trance-like mental stupor and at times manifesting with great excitement or agitation, can occur during ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.