Date of Conferral





Health Services


Kimberly Dixon-Lawson


Influenza vaccination is recommended for persons with high-risk health conditions such as chronic diseases to prevent flu-related complications and death. African Americans 65 years and older have consistently been reported to have the lowest influenza vaccination rates compared to all other racial groups, despite having higher rates of chronic diseases. A review of the literature indicated that there is a dearth of qualitative studies examining the grounds for these low rates. In this study, 15 African Americans 65 years and older were interviewed to explore the factors that contribute to low rates of flu vaccination among this racial group. Research questions using the constructs of the theory of planned behavior gathered the behavioral beliefs, normative beliefs (social norm), and control beliefs affecting low influenza vaccination uptake among older African Americans. Data analysis yielded 5 major themes: (a) fear of illness, (b) vaccine does not work, (c) self-advocacy, (d) have access to flu vaccine, and (e) education needed. These findings suggest that older African Americans would benefit from system, organization, and policy changes that support improved provider efforts and community interventions specifically targeting their concerns about flu vaccination. Implementation of strategies supported by evidence found in this study may improve understanding of flu vaccination from the perspective of older African Americans, and potentially increase the rates of influenza vaccination among this racial group to bring about positive social change.