When we talk about inequities in vaccination rates these days, we're usually talking about COVID-19 vaccines. While roughly 60% of the U.S. is now fully vaccinated against COVID-19, disparities still exist among different races and ethnicities. So we wondered: How prevalent are disparities among routine vaccinations, which are rarely in the spotlight? And what other disparities exist?

According to Verywell survey data, the flu shot is another example of a vaccine whose uptake varies by ethnicity. Asian (75%) & White (69%) respondents are more likely to have received or be planning to receive the flu vaccine this year than Latinx respondents (54%) and Black respondents (62%).

What Is a Health Disparity?

A health disparity refers to a type of health difference linked with social or economic disadvantage.

Disparities among socioeconomic lines, however, are even more stark. Higher income respondents (79% of those making $150k+ annually) are more likely to have received or be planning to receive the flu vaccine this year than lower income respondents (58% of those making $50k or less per year). While 79% of respondents with a post-graduate degree say they have received or are planning to receive a flu shot, only 56% of those whose highest level of education is high school or less say the same.

Additional studies, statistics, and first-hand accounts from healthcare providers make clear that regardless of the vaccine in question, the same barriers to getting vaccinated exist. A person's race, income, education, insurance status, and level of trust in the healthcare system all play a role in their vaccination status. And ease of access to any sort of vaccination site fundamentally underscores whether or not they'll take a routine vaccine, too.

In this Special Report, we examine not only which disparities exist and why, but what patients and providers alike can do to fix them.

How Can Adults Stay on Top of Routine Vaccines?

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Jessica Shepherd MD, MBA, FACOG, is a board certified OB-GYN and the Chief Medical Officer for Verywell Health. She is the founder and CEO of Sanctum Med + Wellness, a wellness concierge practice, and is affiliated with Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, Texas.
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  1. Department of Health and Human Services. Developing healthy people 2020.