- 2012elections - 9/11 Special Coverage - aca - africanamericanalzheimers - aids - Alabama News Network - american - Awards & Expo - bees - bilingual - border - californiaeducation - Caribbean - cir - citizenship - climatechange - collgeinmiami - community - democrats - ecotourism - Elders - Election 2012 - elections2012 - escuelas - Ethnic Media in the News - Ethnicities - Events - Eye on Egypt - Fellowships - food - Foreclosures - Growing Up Poor in the Bay Area - Health Care Reform - healthyhungerfreekids - howtodie - humiliating - immigrants - Inside the Shadow Economy - kimjongun - Latin America - Law & Justice - Living - Media - memphismediaroundtable - Multimedia - NAM en Espaol - Politics & Governance - Religion - Richmond Pulse - Science & Technology - Sports - The Movement to Expand Health Care Access - Video - Voter Suppression - War & Conflict - 攔截盤查政策 - Top Stories - Immigration - Health - Economy - Education - Environment - Ethnic Media Headlines - International Affairs - NAM en Español - Occupy Protests - Youth Culture - Collaborative Reporting

Minorities at Risk as Flu Season Approaches

New America Media, News Report, Kenneth Kim Posted: Dec 11, 2008

LOS ANGELES - Treating influenza as an inevitable or a trivial consequence of winter could be a deadly mistake, officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned at an ethnic media roundtable it sponsored here Dec. 2.

An estimated 36,000 people die from influenza each year in the United States, and more than 200,000 people need to be hospitalized from serious flu-related complications.

"The reason people die from the flu is it can cause mild to severe flu-related complications which at times can lead to death," said Captain Ray Strikas of the National Vaccination Program Office, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Flu is spread by virus-infected droplets, coughed or sneezed into the air. Victims develop fever, headache, muscle ache and fatigue.
ethnic media briefingCDC Ethnic Media Briefing in Los Angeles on Influenza.
The Dec. 2 event was part of an aggressive campaign mounted by the CDC to get as many people as possible vaccinated this year, especially those in ethnic communities.

The Los Angeles roundtable was one of four the CDC held over a three-week period. The other roundtables were held in Washington, D.C., New York and New Orleans. All four events, hosted by New America Media, drew a large number of ethnic media journalists and local health officials.

Dr. Laurene Mascola, chief of Los Angeles County Department of Public Health's Acute Communicable Disease Control, said that the most common misconception about the flu is that it's not a serious illness.

Although influenza doesn't discriminate, the age groups hardest hit by it are people over 65, and children ages 6 months to 19 years. It's especially important for people who are 65 years and older, as well as those with chronic health problems, to get a flu shot because they tend to have already compromised immune systems, and getting the flu can lead to complications, said CDC officials.

The best way to prevent the flu is by getting a flu vaccination each year before the beginning of the flu season, which usually begins in December and peaks in January and February, doctors told the ethnic media.

Flu vaccinations are available in two types, the flu shot and the nasal-spray flu vaccine.
speakersAnn Rivera of the CDC making a presentation.
Even though getting an annual flu shot could save lives, the public is complacent about the potentially serious complications of influenza. There are also racial and ethnic disparities in vaccination rates.

One common misconception about the flu, presenters noted, is that you could get the flu from getting a flu shot. That can't happen because the vaccine itself is derived from a "dead" virus.

Presenters said that overall, the vaccination rate among the elderly population is relatively high, but minorities lag behind that of their white counterparts. In 2006, 67 percent of whites age 65 and older reported receiving the flu vaccine, compared to 47 percent of older African Americans and 45 percent of older Hispanics. The rate among Asian Americans is similar to that of whites, 67 percent.

"In 2007, influenza was one of top leading causes of Hispanic deaths in the country, ranking number nine on the list," said Ana L. Rivera, a public health advisor and project officer responsible for CDC outreach to Hispanic communities.

According to Rivera, 5,000 Hispanics could potentially die annually, and 30,000 individuals and 20,000 children under the age of 5 could be hospitalized because of influenza related conditions.

The "economic burden" caused by the virus each year is close to $87 billion in lost work hours, according to Josefina Carboneli, assistant secretary for aging with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services at the New York City briefing.

She noted that elderly Latinos are the hardest hit by influenza, and they have the highest incidence of diabetes and heart disease of any ethnic group. A recent study by the American Heart Association shows that influenza-related death is more common among people with heart disease than with any other chronic condition.

Local governments offer free flu shots to low-income families and those who qualify regardless of immigration status.

National Influenza Week is Dec. 8 to 14. For general information, contact the CDC at 800-232-4636.

NAM health editor Viji Sundaram contributed to this report. Photos by Julian Do.

Page 1 of 1




Just Posted

NAM Coverage