Flu vaccine uptake low among those with no regular doctor, minorities
A new study presented at an American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) meeting finds that influenza vaccination rates are low for people without a regular healthcare provider, at just 20.5%, as well as among minority groups.
Vaccine coverage among American adults with a regular provider was 44.5%, according to the research, which was presented yesterday at the society's midyear conference.
To determine flu vaccination uptake, researchers looked at 2.5 million health survey records from the 2015, 2017, and 2019 Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance System databases of the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention for adults ages 18 and older.
White Americans were more likely to be vaccinated than Black peers (41%, compared with 32%). Latinos had the lowest coverage, at 31%. Almost 60% of older Americans were vaccinated, while only approximately 30% of adults ages 18 to 25 reported receiving the flu vaccine.
"This research reminds us that under-vaccination and vaccine hesitancy are not limited to COVID-19," said Sinmileoluwa Okegbile, a PharmD candidate at Midwestern University in Arizona and researcher on the study, in an ASHP press release. "Low vaccination rates for the flu persist among those living in the United States even though vaccines can prevent severe illnesses, hospitalization and death.
"Our study suggests a need for a fresh approach to counteract hesitancy."
Dec 7 ASHP press release
China reports fatal H5N6 avian flu infection
China has reported another human H5N6 avian flu infection, which occurred in a 54-year-old woman from Sichuan province who died from her illness, Hong Kong's Centre for Health Protection (CHP) said today in a statement. Following a spike in infections this year, the new case is China's first in more than a month.
The woman's symptoms began on Nov 17, and she was admitted to the hospital on Nov 21, where she died 2 days later. Investigators found that she had been exposed to dead backyard poultry before she got sick.
Since 2014, China has reported 52 human H5N6 cases, 27 of which were reported this year, 10 of them fatal. H5N6 cases, though rare, are often severe or fatal. The H5N6 strain that causes human illness has been reported in birds in four Asian nations. Laos is the only country outside of China to report an H5N6 infection.
Dec 8 CHP statement
Global flu activity rises, but at lower levels than in previous seasons
In an update that covers the middle 2 weeks of November, global flu activity increased but is still below levels seen in previous seasons, the World Health Organization (WHO) said this week.
In the Northern Hemisphere, flu is still at interseasonal levels, but some Southern Hemisphere locations are experiencing rises, including South Africa. In tropical parts of South America, Brazil reported detections of the H3N2 strain.
Meanwhile, Caribbean and Central American countries reported sporadic cases of influenza A and B, while cases declined in Southern Asia. Central Asian countries, including Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, reported H3N2 activity, with Middle Eastern countries reporting increasing numbers of flu detections, mainly from H3N2. Though activity in East Asia was low, influenza B activity rose in China, especially in the north.
Several parts of the world are reporting elevated respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) activity, though some countries such as the United States and parts of Europe reported decreasing cases.
Globally, of respiratory specimens that tested positive for flu in the middle of November, 56.9% were influenza B and 43.1% were influenza A. Of subtyped influenza A viruses, 89.3% were H3N2, with the rest being the H1N1 strain.
The WHO included its usual caveats that flu data should be interpreted with caution, due to potential impacts from COVID-19 measures and surveillance.
Dec 6 WHO global flu update