Why Flu Vaccination Is Essential for African Americans
December 6th-12th is National Influenza Vaccination Week. In 2022-2023, it’s especially important to get a flu vaccine because of the abnormally low exposures to the flu virus many people had during pandemic-related lockdowns and social distancing from 2020-2021. Yet it’s most critical that people of color receive flu vaccines, because statistically, they face far greater health and financial risks if they contract the flu and develop complications from it. Flu complications are more severe for African Americans than other races.
Although many Americans have flu vaccine costs covered by their health insurance plans, some states, programs, and health centers can help you get immunized for free without insurance. Here’s why it’s so essential for African Americans and people of color to get vaccinated against the flu:
- Flu vaccines can prevent flu infection. Even when they fail to do this, they are highly effective at preventing serious illness, hospitalization, and death.
- Over the past decade, Black adults have required hospitalization because of influenza complications (such as bacterial infections or pneumonia) 80% more often than White adults.
- People of color are more likely to be uninsured or underinsured than their White counterparts, which means hospitalization costs can result in enormous financial burdens that worsen the already wide racial wealth gap.
- Lengthy hospital stays result in lost work productivity and possibly in lost jobs for breadwinners of color, which can double the hospitalization-related financial jeopardy for these individuals and their families.
- Even without complications or hospitalization, being sick with the flu makes it difficult for parents to take care of their children and other dependents. Currently, the majority of Black and African American children live in single-parent households. Single parents of color are more likely to lack childcare support, and so can’t afford to become ill.
- Given that American neighborhoods and cities are frequently segregated along racial and economic lines, low vaccination rates among Black adults can result in disproportionate spreading of the flu virus in communities of color, putting entire populations at risk for flu complications, hospitalization, and even death.
Improve Vaccination Rates With the African American Wellness Project
The African American Wellness Project (AAWP) was organized to respond to inequities in the healthcare delivery system. African Americans suffer from health conditions at a disproportionately higher rate than other groups; we provide the resources, information, and tools that Black Americans need to get the best quality of healthcare possible. We do this by providing culturally relevant health information and access to African American health experts.
Check out our resources on influenza vaccines and other topics, or contact us to learn more. Join AAWP in the fight as we do our part to ensure that the African American community receives equitable comprehensive healthcare, and consider donating today!