Blog: National Partnership for Action
Gaining Headway in the Reduction of Disparities in Influenza Vaccination Coverage
Posted on 10/4/2011 by Garth N. Graham M.D., M.P.H
A recent report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) highlights the increase in seasonal influenza vaccination among minority children for the 2010-11 season, as compared to 2009-10 seasonal coverage.
In 2010-11, vaccination coverage rates among children ages 6 months to 17 years were 55.1 percent for Hispanics, 50.8 percent for non-Hispanic blacks, and 48.5 percent for non-Hispanic whites. While coverage among children increased for each of these racial/ethnic groups from the 2009–10 to 2010–11 seasons, the increases were larger for Hispanic and non-Hispanic black children, eliminating the disparity in child coverage for the 2010–11 season.
Compared to the previous year, vaccination coverage rose 8.2 percentage points among Hispanics (from 46.9 percent in 2009-10), 13.8 percentage points among non-Hispanic blacks (from 37.0 percent) and 5.3 percentage points among non-Hispanic whites (from 43.2 percent). Coverage rates among other children ages 6 months – 17 years were 59.4 percent among Asians and 55.6 percent among non-Hispanic others.
These improvements are very positive, and it is important that we sustain this success in the current and future influenza seasons. I am happy to say that we can attribute such successes in decreasing racial and ethnic health disparities to a multi-factorial approach including the ongoing work of our many national, state and local partners.
In fact, the CDC highlights that health advocates and community partners play an important role, as technologies and strategies are employed that can positively affect local vaccination coverage. Innovative outreach strategies such as drive-through vaccination campaigns, text messaging promotions, and school-located vaccination can all be implemented at a local level through partnerships among health departments and medical clinics, and faith-and community-based organizations. Multi-sector partnerships are an important strategy to continue the momentum towards reducing influenza vaccination disparities.
And while the increase in vaccination among minority children is a noteworthy step on the road toward the elimination of health disparities in this country, there is still work to be done. The CDC's influenza vaccine coverage surveys also indicate that challenges still remain to increase overall vaccination uptake, as the minority adult population's (older than 18 years of age) coverage remained unchanged.
I am confident that our partners are poised to address the challenge of increasing vaccination coverage by expanding outreach efforts, organizing local promotional activities, and ramping up messaging through social media platforms. These and other best practices can be found by visiting www.cdc.gov/flu and accessing free resources and helpful tips to promote the flu vaccine. I encourage you to visit the link above, and to learn more about CDC's flu vaccine coverage data at: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/professionals/vaccination/coverage_1011estimates.htm
Thank you for your continued commitment to the elimination of health disparities in the United States.
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The NPA works to achieve health equity -- the highest level of health for all people. This blog is a venue for professionals from all fields and sectors to share their thoughts on pressing issues, news and events pertaining to health equity. Follow and participate in this candid discussion.
About the Author
Dr. Garth N. Graham, MD, MPH, FACP was the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Minority Health in the Office of Minority Health at the Department of Health and Human Services until November 11, 2011. The Office of Minority Health develops and coordinates Federal health policy that addresses minority health concerns and ensures that Federal, State and local health programs take into account the needs of disadvantaged, racial and ethnic populations.
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