It’s a disturbing fact! The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that a more severe strain of the flu virus is spreading widely across the nation, adding that influenza activity remains elevated in the United States. 

According to the CDC, African-Americans are a disparate population that receive low flu vaccinations, yet experience disproportionately higher rates of chronic health conditions such as asthma, diabetes and heart diseases, as well as extreme obesity. These conditions place them at higher risk for severe influenza complications.

“It is important for African-Americans to get an annual influenza vaccine because of their increased health risk factor,” said Dr. Margaret M. Khoury, a pediatric infectious disease physician at Kaiser Permanente Baldwin Park Medical Center. 

The most effective strategy for reducing the effect of the flu within the African-American community is to get vaccinated, and it’s not too late. 

“Unfortunately, many choose not to get the flu vaccine because of myths they believe about the disease or the vaccine,” Dr. Khoury said. “One popular myth is that getting the flu shot will give you the flu. It’s simply not true! Contrary to that myth, not getting the vaccine makes them especially vulnerable to catching the flu. As health professionals, we are concerned that there are myths prevalent in the African-American community that might discourage them from getting vaccinated.” 

Getting vaccinated can reduce flu-related illnesses, doctor’s visits, missed school and work due to the flu. Influenza vaccination in high-risk individuals has also been linked to favorable health outcomes, including fewer flu-related hospitalizations and death. High-risk individuals include children, the elderly, immuno-compromised individuals and those with severe chronic conditions.

For more information about preventing or treating the flu, visit www.kp.org/flu.

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