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Flu season is in full swing, and our community is getting hit the hardest. Our chances of being hospitalized as a result of contracting the flu are 80% higher than white adults, according to the CDC. According to the organization’s Weekly Influenza Tracker, here are the ten states where patients sought outpatient treatment for respiratory symptoms, including fever, cough, or sore throat. Many of these states have significant Black populations.
The Flu is the Highest in These Ten States
- South Carolina
- Puerto Rico
- New Mexico
The Flu is Minimal or Low In These Ten States
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
- The US Virgin Islands
How Does the Flu Vaccine Factor in?
Many of us are wary of vaccinations because we aren’t confident in them. But other reasons include our inability to access insurance and health care. We also have a higher incidence of asthma, diabetes, obesity and other chronic conditions which raise the possibility of complications. When we have chronic conditions, it is important to understand the risks to health when we decide not to be vaccinated.
How One Community Is Working to Encourage Flu Shots
In Alleghany County, Pennsylvania, The University of Pittsburgh conducted focus groups with Black residents to better understand vaccine issues. In that community, one in five residents lives below the poverty line. The strategies they tried included explaining how the vaccine works (from the ingredients to the side effects) and the impact on the individuals and their families. For example, they wanted younger people with higher immune responses to know they would protect their family’s older people by getting a flu shot. Finally, they shared the data about what happens to us when we don’t, a greater chance of hospitalization than any other race, and a 16% higher mortality rate from the flu and pneumonia.
If the flu is trending in your state, be vigilant about protecting yourself and consider being vaccinated. Check The Weekly Influenza Tracker often as the data will be updated regularly. If you have questions about flu vaccines, talk to your health care provider about your concerns.