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Vaccines and LEP Patients

Information and talking points for providers speaking with patients who are reluctant to vaccinate. Includes summarized findings from focus groups Public Health-Seattle & King County held with local Somali community leaders to learn about their attitudes, beliefs and practices regarding vaccination and other culturally tailored information.

Toolkit for community forums addressing vaccine hesitancy in Russian community

This toolkit from WithinReach is designed to provide help in developing a culturally appropriate meeting within the Russian community. Coordinating a meeting for Russian speakers regarding childhood immunizations requires multiple skills, including relationship building, budgeting and decision making. This toolkit is designed to provide the reader with a step by step guide to organizing the meeting. While this is not an exhaustive list of everything that is required, the toolkit does incorporate a few lessons learned and insight into an important health topic that can be controversial within Russian-speaking communities. Included in this toolkit is a background history of vaccine hesitancy among Russian speaking populations, along with references, to provide the reader with greater insight into the topic. Additionally the appendixes provide sample posters, sample surveys in both Russian and English, a menu for the meeting, and introduction points for the presenter.

Toolkit for Community Forums Addressing Vaccine Hesitancy

Somali Attitudes, Beliefs and Practices Regarding Vaccination

The cultural or religious issues can be complex and varied.  In 2011 Public Health Seattle King County held focus groups with local Somali community leaders to learn about their attitudes, beliefs and practices regarding vaccination.  Some preliminary findings indicate there may be: 1) concern about vaccines containing porcine gelatin (consumption of pork or pork products is not Halal meaning not permissible according to Islamic law) (there are many vaccines which do not contain porcine gelatin); 2) lack of familiarity with the concept of preventive health care; 3) some belief in a link between vaccines and autism-like disorders; and 4) some disbelief in the seriousness of influenza.  In the Somali language, there is no word for “influenza” or “flu”, and the closest translation is “hargabka” which means “cough” or “cold”.  

View the 2 page summary: Vaccination Hesitancy in the Somali Community

Talking Points For Discussing Flu Vaccine With Patients

Taking time to talk with patients about their reluctance to vaccinate will likely be more effective than written materials. There are several talking points that might be useful when encountering resistance to vaccination,including:

  • The importance of protecting family members since it is the young, pregnant women, and the elderly who are most vulnerable.  HMC’s Dr. John Lynch recently told Community House Call’s community advisory board that keeping younger people from getting ill will keep older people more healthy.  
  • HMC’s Dr. Carey Jackson suggests that the closest illness to the experience of the flu for many from sub-Saharan Africa is a bout of malaria with fevers, shaking chills, headaches, photophobia, nausea, myalgias, arthralgias and vomiting. Likening flu to an episode like this rather than a cold may get more people’s attention.
  • Patients may say "I got the shot and still got the flu” largely because they had some viral syndrome with fevers and don't realize the flu is usually an order of magnitude worse.