Health experts recommend getting a flu shot by Halloween this year, as doctors worry about a twindemic of flu and COVID-19 cases overloading hospitals.
A little more than half of Americans get flu shots each year. But new CDC data shows a diversity gap in flu shots.
“For African-Americans and Hispanic and Latino populations, we're looking at a coverage of around 40 percent. So that means we can do much better,” Dr. Leandris Liburd, Chief Health Equity Officer with the CDC said.
Dr. Leandris Liburd joined the CDC’s COVID-19 response team in May as the chief health equity officer.
She tells Newsy fewer Black children get the flu vaccine than children of all other races. African-Americans also have twice the rate of hospitalization for the illness. That’s on top of COVID’s disproportionate impact on people of color.
“African-Americans, Hispanic and Latinos, American Indians, Alaska Natives have borne a particularly high burden of COVID-19, in severe illness associated with COVID-19 and even death," Liburd said.
The CDC, American Medical Association and the Ad Council are reaching out to minority communities with extra ads and education to doctors and local health departments.
"We want to make sure they have the best information, the best science and the data," Dr. Patrice Harris, Past President of the American Medical Association told Newsy.
Meanwhile, flu vaccine manufacturers have increased production this year, 12% higher than last year.
“We've heard that there may be spot shortages in some areas of the country but really due to shipping delays, but confident that there is ample supply for everyone in this country who needs and wants a vaccine,” Marla Dalton, Executive Director of National Foundation for Infectious Diseases said.
Now, doctors and health experts just have to hope that the public will hear their pleas and get a shot.