With this flu season expected to be harsher than others in recent years, while respiratory syncytial virus and COVID-19 are also circulating widely, it will be especially important to ensure that as many Americans as possible are suitably vaccinated. Unfortunately, as was made clearer than ever during the height of the pandemic, some racial and ethnic groups are at greater risk for illness and poor outcomes during viral outbreaks. In fact, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between the 2009-10 and 2021-22 seasons, age-adjusted hospitalizations for influenza were higher among non-Hispanic black (rate ratio [RR] 1.8), American Indian or Alaska Native (AI/AN; RR 1.3), and Hispanic (RR 1.2) adult patients compared with white adult patients. A look at the most recent immunization data illustrates why; for the 2021-22 season, while 53.9% of adult white patients received flu shots, the same held true for only 37.9% of Hispanic adults, 40.9% of AI/AN adults, and 42% of black adults. The disparity was not affected to a significant degree by medical insurance status, having a personal healthcare provider, or having a routine medical checkup in the previous year. As such, the CDC suggests that “healthcare providers should assess patient vaccination status at all medical visits and offer (or provide a referral for) all recommended vaccines.” JUCM has published urgent care-specific research on inequities in healthcare. To learn more, read Use of a Quality Improvement Tool for the Evaluation of Healthcare Disparities in Urgent Care: A Case Example for Bacterial Pneumonia in our archive right now.
Disparities Could Leave Some Patients at Greater Risk for Flu and Poor Outcomes This Year