A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that Black, Hispanic and Native American people are more likely to be hospitalized due to the flu and are less likely to get an annual flu shot than White Americans.
For the report, flu hospitalization rates from 2009 to 2022 and vaccination rates from 2010 to 2022 were looked at.
The CDC compared demographic data from the three observed groups to similar data on White Americans.
Compared to White Americans, flu hospitalization rates were 80 percent higher for Black Americans, 30 percent higher for Hispanic Americans and 20 percent higher for Native Americans and Alaska Natives.
These hospitalization rates could be due to some minority groups having disproportionate rates of chronic illness such as asthma and diabetes. The report also observed that flu vaccination rates among these groups have been “consistently” lower since 2010.
The CDC attributed these disparities to issues including a lack of access to health care and insurance; missed opportunities for vaccination; and misinformation and distrust in vaccines.
Health care providers and government officials were advised to make “culturally appropriate” flu vaccine recommendations to counteract these observed trends.
This report comes as health officials have warned that this year’s flu season could be harsher than what has been observed during the past two years of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Due to a lack of exposure to the influenza virus, researchers believe that community immunity to the flu has been lowered. In the Southern Hemisphere, where the flu season is experienced earlier than in the Northern Hemisphere, officials observed that the flu season was more severe than in recent years.
The number of reported flu cases in the U.S. has begun to rise as colder weather sets in, pushing people closing together indoors. The rate of positive tests remains low at the moment, with only 3.3 percent of lab tests coming back as positive for the flu.
Federal officials have strongly encouraged Americans to get both the flu shot and the COVID-19 bivalent booster dose this season as they hope to avoid a major surge in cases, or a possible “twindemic” of both viruses. Officials fear that hospitals could once again become overwhelmed if cases were to rise.