On Tuesday (October 18), the CDC published a new study that revealed how people of color are more likely to be hospitalized for the flu while being less likely to have received a flu vaccination than their white and Asian counterparts.
Last flu season, 54 percent of white and Asian American adults received the flu shot, compared to 42 percent of Black individuals, 38 percent of Hispanic people, and 41 percent of American Indian and Alaska natives.
Yet one of the study’s most alarming findings was that Black adults were 80 percent more likely to face flu hospitalizations than white individuals, a disparity much larger than American Indians/Alaska natives at 30 percent more likely and Hispanic Americans at 20 percent.
The CDC study cites data on hospitalization rates from 2009-22 and flu vaccinations from 2010-22, noting that the relationship between the two isn’t proportional.
Dr. Sabrina Annick Assoumou, a Boston Medical Center infectious disease physician, suggested that the disparities stem from structural racism.
“People of color, Black people, Latinos, Indigenous people are often going to be disproportionately impacted,” she said. “The same structural factors – access to care, access to prevention – all those factors are all going to come into play, and unfortunately, lead to a disproportionate impact on some of the same communities that were impacted from COVID.”
The CDC recommends everyone older than 6 months receive a yearly flu vaccination. Each year, millions of Americans are infected by the flu, which results in hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations and tens of thousands of deaths.