National Influenza Vaccine Week took place December 5-9 this year and serves as a reminder that it’s not too late to get a flu vaccine. Individuals 6 months and older are eligible for a vaccine.
While National Influenza Vaccine Week is a call to action for those who haven’t received the vaccine yet, it is also a time to bring attention to the vaccine inequity that exists in the United States.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2021-2022 only 1 in 2 Americans got a flu vaccine during the flu season; however, a great inequity exists in that number:
- Less than 43% of Black, Hispanic, and American Indian/Alaska Native adults were vaccinated during the 2021/2022 flu season
- Flu hospitalization rates were nearly 80% higher among Black adults than White adults from 2009-2022
- From 2010-2020, flu hospitalization rates were 30% higher among American Indian/Alaska Native adults and 20% higher among Hispanic adults
Health inequity includes a lack of access to health care and insurance, lack of vaccination, and misinformation and distrust. These inequities can be worsened by racism and prejudice.
The CDC states that in order to increase equitable vaccine uptake, it will require addressing “the range of reasons why people do not get vaccinated.” In order to address vaccine barriers and raise flu vaccine awareness, the CDC has launched two programs – Partnering for Vaccine Equity (P4VE) and a targeted flu vaccination campaign.
Although vaccination may not always prevent infection, it can make symptoms less severe and reduce the risk of being hospitalized.
People who are at higher risk for flu include: adults 65+, adults with chronic conditions, pregnant people, people with disabilities, HIV/AIDS, or cancer, racial and ethnic minority groups.
Remember, the flu season lasts through the winter months and the sooner you get vaccinated, the more you will be protected.