Racial and ethnic minority groups, such as Black, Hispanic, American Indian or Alaska Native, and Asian or Pacific Islander persons, often experience higher rates of severe influenza disease. This study by O’Halloran, et al. (2021) describes rates of influenza-associated hospitalizations, intensive care unit (ICU) admissions and in-hospital deaths by race and ethnicity over 10 recent flu seasons.
This cross-sectional study used data from the Influenza-Associated Hospitalization Surveillance Network (FluSurv-NET), which conducts population-based surveillance for laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated hospitalizations in selected counties, representing approximately 9% of the US population. Influenza hospitalizations from the 2009 to 2010 season to the 2018 to 2019 season were analyzed. Data were analyzed from October 2020 to July 2021.
The main outcomes were age-adjusted and age-stratified rates of influenza-associated hospitalization, ICU admission, and in-hospital death by race and ethnicity overall and by influenza season.
Among 113,352 persons with an influenza-associated hospitalization (34,436 persons [32.0%] aged ≥75 years; 61 009 [53.8%] women), 70,225 persons (62.3%) were non-Hispanic White (White), 24,850 persons (21.6%) were non-Hispanic Black (Black), 11,903 persons (10.3%) were Hispanic, 5,517 persons (5.1%) were non-Hispanic Asian or Pacific Islander, and 857 persons (0.7%) were non-Hispanic American Indian or Alaska Native. Among persons aged younger than 75 years and compared with White persons of the same ages, Black persons were more likely to be hospitalized (eg, age 50-64 years: rate ratio [RR], 2.50 95% CI, 2.43-2.57) and to be admitted to an ICU (eg, age 50-64 years: RR, 2.09; 95% CI, 1.96-2.23). Among persons aged younger than 50 years and compared with White persons of the same ages, American Indian or Alaska Native persons were more likely to be hospitalized (eg, age 18-49 years: RR, 1.72; 95% CI, 1.51-1.96) and to be admitted to an ICU (eg, age 18-49 years: RR, 1.84; 95% CI, 1.40-2.42). Among children aged 4 years or younger and compared with White children, hospitalization rates were higher in Black children (RR, 2.21; 95% CI, 2.10-2.33), Hispanic children (RR, 1.87; 95% CI, 1.77-1.97), American Indian or Alaska Native children (RR, 3.00; 95% CI, 2.55-3.53), and Asian or Pacific Islander children (RR, 1.26; 95% CI, 1.16-1.38), as were rates of ICU admission (Black children: RR, 2.74; 95% CI, 2.43-3.09; Hispanic children: RR, 1.96; 95% CI, 1.73-2.23; American Indian and Alaska Native children: RR, 3.51; 95% CI, 2.45-5.05). In this age group and compared with White children, in-hospital death rates were higher among Hispanic children (RR, 2.98; 95% CI, 1.23-7.19), Black children (RR, 3.39; 95% CI, 1.40-8.18), and Asian or Pacific Islander children (RR, 4.35; 95% CI, 1.55-12.22). Few differences were observed in rates of severe influenza-associated outcomes by race and ethnicity among adults aged 75 years or older. For example, in this age group, compared with White adults, hospitalization rates were slightly higher only among Black adults (RR, 1.05; 95% CI 1.02-1.09). Overall, Black persons had the highest age-adjusted hospitalization rate (68.8 [95% CI, 68.0-69.7] hospitalizations per 100 ,000 population) and ICU admission rate (11.6 [95% CI, 11.2-11.9] admissions per 100, 000 population).
This cross-sectional study found racial and ethnic disparities in rates of severe influenza-associated disease. These data identified subgroups for whom improvements in influenza prevention efforts could be targeted.
Reference: O’Halloran AC, et al. Rates of Influenza-Associated Hospitalization, Intensive Care Unit Admission, and In-Hospital Death by Race and Ethnicity in the United States From 2009 to 2019. JAMA Netw Open. 2021;4(8):e2121880. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.21880