Study shows minorities more likely to get combo flu-COVID vaccine than just COVID vaccine alone

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February 14, 2022Penn State College of Medicine News

Results from a study involving a Penn State College of Medicine researcher suggest that bundling COVID-19 vaccines or boosters with influenza vaccines might increase uptake of both COVID-19 and flu vaccines among minorities.

Dr. Robert Lennon, associate professor of family and community medicine, and Ray Block, Brown-McCourtney Career Development Professor in the McCourtney Institute and associate professor of political science and African American studies at Penn State, collaborated with the African American Research Collaborative (AARC), an organization dedicated to bringing an accurate understanding of African American civic engagement to the public discourse. Together, the team surveyed more than 12,880 U.S. minority adults from May 7 to June 7, 2021.

To assess the acceptance of the seasonal flu vaccine alone, the team asked participants, “Do you plan to get the flu vaccine this year? (a) yes, (b) no or (c) don’t know/unsure.”

The team assessed acceptance of an annual COVID-19 vaccine by asking participants, “Some medical professionals think COVID-19 vaccines may need to be taken annually, similar to the seasonal flu vaccine. Would you say (a) I would definitely take an updated COVID-19 vaccine once per year, (b) I might take an updated COVID-19 vaccine each year or (c) I would not take an updated COVID-19 vaccine each year.”

Acceptance of a combination COVID-19-flu vaccine — which some manufacturers plan to develop —was measured by asking participants, “Would you be willing to take a combination COVID-19-flu vaccine as one shot every year to protect yourself from both COVID-19 and influenza? (a) yes, (b) no or (c) don’t know/unsure.”

Forty-five percent of respondents said that they have, will certainly or will most likely get a COVID-19 vaccine, while 58% said they would get an influenza vaccine. For a combination influenza-COVID-19 vaccine, overall acceptance was 50%.

“The fact that approximately half of the population we surveyed said they were willing to accept a combination vaccine suggests that bundling COVID-19 boosters with the highly accepted influenza vaccines may be a convenient option to increase uptake of vaccines among minorities,” Lennon said. “An optimal approach may be to offer a combination vaccine first, and if refused, offer individual influenza or COVID-19 boosters to accommodate those who will accept only one.”

Other authors on the paper include Eric Schneider, senior vice president for policy and research, The Commonwealth Fund; Laurie Zephrin, vice president for advancing health equity, The Commonwealth Fund; Arnav Shah, senior research associate, The Commonwealth Fund; and members of The African American Research Collaborative 2021 COVID Group.

This research was supported by The Commonwealth Fund, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

Read the full story on Penn State News

Read the study manuscript in Vaccine

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