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The Disparities in Flu Vaccine Uptake

October 26, 2022

A new CDC report provides a call to action to address disparities in flu hospitalizations and vaccinations among Black, Hispanic, and American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) adults.

The analysis in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report comes as hospitals are preparing for a potentially challenging winter of respiratory viruses and urging everyone to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and the flu this fall.

“Health care providers, state and federal officials, and individuals can work together to fight flu by taking steps to increase vaccine uptake in everyone, including people from racial and ethnic minority groups,” the CDC notes.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Disparities in outcomes:  When compared to rates for white adults, flu hospitalizations were significantly higher for Black adults (80% higher), AI/AN adults (30% higher), and Hispanic adults (20% higher).
  • Vaccination coverage:  Flu vaccination rates were 54 percent among white and Asian adults; 42 percent among Black adults; 41 percent among AI/AN adults; and 38 percent among Hispanic adults.
  • Contributing factors:  The CDC cited lack of access to care and insurance, missed vaccination opportunities, and misinformation and distrust as leading causes of vaccination disparities. Chronic conditions also increase flu-related complications. The agency also noted that racism and prejudice can worsen these inequalities.
  • Quotable:  “Flu vaccines are the best way to protect against flu and its potentially serious complications,” said Debra Houry, MD, MPH, CDC acting principal deputy director. “Improving access to and trust in flu vaccines among people is critical to help reduce inequities.”

The report reviews hospitalization rates from 2009–2022 and flu vaccination coverage from 2010–2022.

HAP joins Pennsylvania’s hospital community to remind everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and the flu. Getting vaccinated will help ensure that you have full protection against the viruses as we head into the winter season.

Hospitals also are committed to identifying and addressing inequities in health care that contribute to disparities in outcomes. Read the CDC report online.