Public health research addressing LGBT individuals is especially rare for populations in the South and/or outside major metropolitan cities. Even among the U.S. population as a whole, data on adult vaccination coverage are sparse.
[Photo: Dr. Jeff Jones]
This study reports the results of a 2012 Lexington-Fayette County, Kentucky, community health assessment asking about eight adult vaccinations among 218 lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered (LGBT) respondents. Researchers collected data using an online survey distributed through LGBT social media, posters, and LGBT print media. The LGBT sample largely matches the demographics of the county as a whole except this group reports higher levels of education and fewer uninsured individuals. Among LGBT respondents, immunization prevalence reaches 68.0 percent (annual Influenza), 65.7 percent (Hepatitis B), 58.8 percent (Chickenpox/Varicella), 55.9 percent (Hepatitis A), 41.2 percent (Smallpox), and 25.8 percent (Pneumonia). Among respondents who are currently within the recommended 19–26 years age range for the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, the LGBT females are less likely to report receiving the vaccine (15.4 percent) compared to the national coverage percentage of 34.5 percent. Males, however, are more likely to have received the vaccine (10.3 percent) than the national percentage of 2.3 percent. The small number of LGBT seniors in the study report a much higher prevalence of the Shingles (Herpes Zoster) vaccines than for U.S. seniors 60 and older (71.4 percent compared to 20.1 percent nationally). Overall, LGBT respondents report higher percentages of adult vaccination.
“LGBT health and vaccinations: Findings from a community health survey of Lexington-Fayette County, Kentucky, USA,” was published in Vaccine, the leading journal in the world on immunizations. Dr. Jeff Jones, lead author, says about this research: “This is a small but important first step towards including LGBT individuals in our knowledge of adult immunizations. To date my co-authors and I could find no similar studies looking at a broad range of vaccine prevalence for this population. It is my hope that future research will survey other LGBT people in other areas of the U.S. and see if our finding of higher vaccination rates is true for other communities. For now our study is unique, and I am gratified that Vaccine has published our work.”
Dr. Jeff Jones, assistant professor for Health Policy and Management at the Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health Georgia Southern University was the lead author. Ms. Asheley Poole, a Georgia Southern University student, is second author.