CDC Officials Urge Flu Vaccinations, Especially for MinoritiesCDC officials earlier this month at an ethnic media roundtable in Los Angeles expressed the importance of vaccinations to prevent the spread of the flu, New America Media reports. The roundtable, held Dec. 2, was part of the agency's campaign to get as many people as possible vaccinated this year, especially minorities. New America Media and CDC hosted similar roundtables in New Orleans, New York and Washington, D.C.
According to New America Media, there are racial and ethnic disparities in flu vaccination rates. In 2006, 45% of Hispanics ages 65 and older reported being vaccinated compared with 47% of elderly blacks and 67% of whites and Asian-Americans of the same age.
Ana Rivera, a public health adviser and Hispanic outreach officer for CDC, said that 5,000 Hispanics are at risk of dying from the flu annually and each year an additional 30,000 Hispanic adults and 20,000 children under age five could be hospitalized for flu-related complications. In 2007, flu was among the leading causes of death for Hispanics in the nation, according to Rivera. Overall, 36,000 people in the U.S. die from the flu each year and more than 200,000 are hospitalized for serious complications related to the illness.
Elderly Hispanics are the hardest hit by the flu virus, according to New America Media. They also have the highest prevalence of diabetes and heart disease of any ethnic group. A recent American Heart Association study found that flu-related death is more common among people with heart disease than with any other chronic condition.
Local governments offer no-cost vaccinations regardless of immigration status, New America Media reports (Kim, New America Media, 12/11). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.