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Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Influenza and Pneumococcal Immunization Rates Among Medicare Beneficiaries

Despite Medicare’s coverage of influenza and pneumonia vaccinations, immunization rates among beneficiaries are less than optimal, with even lower rates among African Americans and Hispanics. This Insight on the Issues from AARP’s Public Policy Institute discusses adult immunization recommendations and current Medicare immunization coverage policies, presents data on immunization disparities, discusses factors that may contribute to disparities, and highlights federal and state initiatives to address them. There are promising strategies to promote influenza and pneumococcal immunization among the general population, as well as efforts targeted to African Americans and Hispanics. Sustained efforts are needed in order to reduce disparities in immunization rates among vulnerable populations.

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