What causes these disparities in different racial groups? There’s no easy answer to that question. Dr. Zimmerman cites research that says people have the perception that their doctors aren’t recommending certain vaccines. He also says that people avoid vaccines because they’re afraid they’re not safe and they feel they don’t work. Some people see getting a yearly flu vaccine as a hassle. And, even though many vaccines are available at community pharmacies, some people still have difficulties accessing health care or don’t have insurance.

Dr. Zimmerman suggests getting accurate information about vaccines and their safety. He recommends talking to a health care professional about any concerns and going to http://www.immunizationinfo.org, a Web site that takes no money from the government or from drug companies. If people are still concerned about vaccinations, Dr. Zimmerman reminds them that they don’t want to be the one who passes on a preventable disease to a grandchild, child or other loved one. Because most people have been vaccinated, we forget how horrible and deadly diseases like whooping cough or polio can be.

“Doctors have evidence that vaccines work and that they are safe,” Dr. Zimmerman says. “The best recommendation I can give to people is this: Every year I get the flu vaccine, my wife gets it, and my four children get it.”


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