Inequities found in flu vaccine uptake

Oct. 19, 2022
Increasing flu vaccination through more targeted outreach can help lower disparities.

Black, Hispanic, and American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) adults in the United States are more likely to be hospitalized with flu, as well as less likely to be vaccinated against flu, according to a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Vital Signs report.

The Vital Signs report looked at flu hospitalization rates from 2009–2022 and flu vaccination coverage from 2010–2022 by race and ethnicity, from two data sources, the Influenza-Associated Hospitalization Network (FluSurv-NET) and Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFS).

Flu vaccination coverage has been consistently lower among Black, Hispanic, and AI/AN adults since 2010. During the 2021–2022 season, flu vaccination coverage was 54% among White and Asian adults, 42% among Black adults, 38% among Hispanic adults, and 41% among AI/AN adults.

Black, Hispanic, and AI/AN adults were hospitalized with flu at higher rates than White adults during most seasons from 2009 to 2022. Compared to White adults, hospitalization rates were nearly:

  • 80% higher among Black adults,
  • 30% higher among AI/AN adults, and
  • 20% higher among Hispanic adults.

There are many reasons for disparities in severe outcomes of flu, including lack of access to healthcare and insurance, missed opportunities to vaccinate, and misinformation and distrust that contribute to lower levels of confidence in vaccines. People from certain racial and ethnic minority groups have higher rates of asthma, diabetes, obesity, and other chronic conditions. These increase the risk for serious flu complications. Racism and prejudice also are known to worsen inequalities.

Healthcare 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.

CDC release