People of color face high risk of flu hospitalization: CDC

Compared to white adults, people of color in the U.S. are more likely to be hospitalized with the flu and less likely to be vaccinated against the flu, according to a large study the CDC published Oct. 18. 

The report is based on data from the agency's flu surveillance network. Researchers looked at hospitalization data from the 2009 flu season through 2022 as well as vaccination coverage data from 2010 through 2022. 

For most flu seasons since 2009, people of color were hospitalized at higher rates than white adults. Flu hospitalization rates were 80 percent higher among Black adults, 30 percent higher among American Indian or Alaska Native adults, and 20 percent higher among Hispanic adults.

There were also significant disparities in flu vaccination coverage rates. Since the 2010-11 flu season, vaccination coverage has been consistently higher among white and Asian adults. During last year's flu season, 54 percent of white and Asian adults were vaccinated, compared to 42 percent of Black adults, 38 percent of Hispanic adults, and 41 percent of American Indian or Alaska Native adults. 

CDC officials said the disparities in outcomes and lower vaccination rates among people of color stem from lack of access to healthcare and insurance, misinformation and distrust, and providers missing opportunities to vaccinate patients during healthcare visits. Rates of asthma, diabetes and other chronic conditions are higher among certain racial and ethnic groups, which also raises the risk for severe flu complications. 

The CDC said increasing vaccination rates among people of color would require national, state and community-level efforts to build trust and increase access. 

Click here to view the full report. 

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