National Influenza Vaccination Week –
Give the Gift of Health
Minorities get vaccinated less – and sick more
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Avoid the gift your don’t want to get, or give this holiday season, by getting your flu shot during National Influenza Vaccination Week, December 5-11, 2010.
“National Influenza Vaccination Week is the perfect time to educate people about the importance of getting an annual flu shot,” said Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Damon T. Arnold. “Getting vaccinated is the single best way for people to protect not only themselves against flu, but their loved ones as well.”
Minority populations are among those the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) would like to spread the word to about the importance of an annual influenza vaccination.
When comparing 2009 H1N1 influenza hospitalization rates across racial/ethnic groups, it’s clear that minority groups consistently had higher rates of serious disease, including hospitalizations, than non-minority groups. In fact, hospitalization rates among minority groups were consistently more than double those of White, non Hispanics, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Toward the end of the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, American Indians/ Alaska Natives were hospitalized more than any other group, followed by Hispanics, and then Black, non-Hispanics. White, non-Hispanics and Asian/ Pacific Islanders had significantly fewer hospitalizations due to 2009 H1N1 than other races or ethnicities.
Additional studies are needed to determine the reasons for this disparity. The CDC says it’s possible that socio-economic reasons could account for the differences in 2009 H1N1 hospitalization rates of race/ethnicity, including issues related to access to care, preponderance of underlying health conditions among certain ethnic or minority groups, and self care or care seeking behaviors.
Both the IDPH and the CDC recommend everyone six months and older receive the flu vaccine. People at high risk of serious influenza complications, including young children; pregnant women; people with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes or heart and lung disease; and people 65 years and older should make getting vaccinated a priority.
To reduce the spread of influenza, it is also important to practice the 3 C’s –
- Clean – properly wash your hands frequently
- Cover – cover your cough and sneeze
- Contain – contain your germs by staying home if you are sick
For more information, log onto www.idph.state.il.us/flu/index.htm.