Ethnic Disparities in Influenza-Associated Hospitalization and Death

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Analysis of 10 years of data revealed that racial and ethnic minorities experienced more adverse outcomes from severe influenza.

Non-White persons had the highest rate of hospitalizations, ICU admissions, and mortality for severe influenza-associated disease over the course of 10 influenza seasons, highlighting racial and ethnic disparities, according to the results of a recent study published in JAMA Open Network.

This cross-sectional study searched the Influenza-Associated Hospitalization Surveillance Network for influenza hospitalizations from a period beginning with the 2009 to 2010 season and ending with the 2018 to 2019 season. The primary study outcomes were age-adjusted and age-stratified rates of influenza-associated hospitalization, ICU admission, and in-hospital death by race and ethnicity, both overall and by influenza season.

Among 113,352 persons with an influenza-associated hospitalization in the database, 34,436 people were above the age of 75 and 61,009 were women. When race and ethnicity were tabulated, 62.3% were non-Hispanic White (White), 21.6% were non-Hispanic Black (Black), 10.3% were Hispanic, 5.1% were non-Hispanic Asian or Pacific Islander, and 0.7% were non-Hispanic American Indian or Alaska Native.

When hospitalizations were stratified by age, persons aged younger than 75 who were also Black were more likely to be hospitalized and to be admitted to an ICU. For people aged younger than 50 years, those who were American Indian or Alaska Native persons were more likely to be hospitalized and admitted to an ICU. Among children aged 4 years or younger, hospitalization rates were higher in Black children, Hispanic children, American Indian or Alaska Native children, and Asian or Pacific Islander children. The rates of ICU admission were also elevated for these groups.

The study authors wrote, “This cross-sectional study found racial and ethnic disparities in rates of severe influenza-associated disease.” They added, “These data identified subgroups for whom improvements in influenza prevention efforts could be targeted.”

Disclosure: Several study authors declared affiliations with the pharmaceutical industry. Please see the original reference for a full list of authors’ disclosures.


O’Halloran AC, Holstein R, Cummings C, 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. Published online August 2, 2021. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.21880

This article originally appeared on Pulmonology Advisor