Fewer black Americans get flu shots - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Fewer black Americans get flu shots

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October 28, 2003
Dawson- Gonasha Harris is getting her first flu shot.

"Big girl," said Charlotte Law, nurse manager at the Terrell County Health Department, cheering the five-year-old girl on. That makes her a minority among black Americans, many of whom won't get the flu vaccine.

And that has become a top concern for the CDC in Atlanta.

Last year, 69 percent of whites over 65 got the flu shot. Only 49 percent of blacks over 65 got the vaccine. The winter flu season kills about 36 thousand people a year, most of them elderly.

Some experts say people who won't get the vaccine usually think the shot will make them sick, which is not true. But Law says the people she sees resist the shot because they fear the needle.

"It's not because they're scared of the flu vaccine," Law said. "I believe once Flu Mist, flu nasal spray, gets where the public can afford it, that they'll start getting them."

Right now, Flu Mist is too expensive for health departments to use. It costs between $45 and $50. The flu shot costs about $15.

But whether you're pricked in the arm or sprayed up the nose, the point is the vaccine works.

"Some of the people that come in here, this is the only time we see them the whole year long, is to come get their flu shot," Law said.

So Gonasha will be flu free for a while.