Flu Vaccination

The clinical focus for the DRIVE Toolkit is to help build equity for flu vaccination rates in underserved communities.

Impact from the Flu

The seasonal flu virus imposes a tremendous burden on the United States. During the 2016-2017 season, the flu was responsible for: 1

  • 29 million cases
  • 500,000 hospitalizations
  • 38,000 deaths

Though anyone can face serious complications from the flu, some patients face a significantly increased risk of hospitalization and death, including:

  • Patients with chronic medical conditions, such as heart disease, lung disease (eg, asthma or COPD) or diabetes
  • Older adults who are immunocompromised

Racial Disparities Persist in Flu Vaccination

People of color are more prone to chronic medical conditions, such as heart disease (6x more likely in Blacks) and diabetes (10x more likely in Hispanics), which in turn, makes them more vulnerable to serious complications from the flu. Annual flu vaccination can protect these patients from severe outcomes, but there are significant racial disparities in flu vaccination rates, in addition to broader limitations on access to proper health care and support. Namely, a study found that there is an approximate 20-30% decrease in flu vaccination rates among Blacks and Hispanic Americans vs the overall population.

Since the flu poses a particular significant health risk to patients with chronic illnesses, and these illnesses are more prevalent in people of color, flu vaccination for this population is critical.

The Flu Vaccine DOES Work

Flu vaccination is an effective public health measure to preserve the health of individuals, particularly those at greater risk of complications, and communities.

The positive effects of flu vaccination are evident. During the 2017 – 2018 season, the CDC estimates flu vaccination prevented approximately: 2

  • 6.2 million cases
  • 91,000 flu-associated hospitalizations
  • 5,700 flu-associated deaths

Despite the clear benefits and effectiveness of the flu vaccine, there are still gaps in flu vaccination rates—especially in diverse and high-risk communities.

Unacceptable gaps in flu vaccination rates and widening racial disparities require immediate action.

The DRIVE Toolkit is a framework that can be utilized to help increase flu vaccination rates in these underserved communities.

  1. Source: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/burden/index.html – Accessed July 7, 2020.
  2. Source: https://www.cdc.gov/flu/vaccines-work/vaccineeffect.htm – Accessed July 7, 2020.

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