It’s happening all over the country. It’s being reported locally but not by the national press.

African-Americans are more likely than other groups to experience complications and/or die from the H1N1 virus aka Swine Flu, yet are less likely to get the vaccine. See the chart above, courtesy of the CDC.

Wassup, y’all?

From the TriState Defender:

From Sept. 1 to the end of October, 32 percent of the children who died from the virus were African American, even though African Americans make up 12 percent of the nation’s youth; 21 percent of children who died were Hispanic, an ethnic group that makes up 15 percent of the nation’s youth. On the other hand, only 25 percent of the fatal cases involved white children who represent 67 percent of the nation’s youth.

Dr. Louis Sullivan, former president and founder of the Morehouse School of Medicine, said a variety of factors including bad nutrition, asthma, diabetes and obesity among African American and Hispanic youth can worsen the affects of H1N1.

For example, Sullivan says the combination of asthma and H1N1 and also seasonal flu, can lead to death. “African-Americans and Hispanics have a high concentration in low-income neighborhoods,” Sullivan said. “Poor communities have higher incidents of asthma. (It) is one condition that increases susceptibility to influenza.”

Here are a few interesting facts from the Centers from Disease Control (CDC):

From April 15-August 31, 2009, 35 percent of people hospitalized with 2009 H1N1 in 13 metropolitan areas of 10 states were non-Hispanic black. Only 16 percent of the catchment area population studied, however, was non-Hispanic black.2


Many medical conditions are associated with an increased risk of serious complications from Disparities in underlying medical conditions, such as asthma and diabetes, may contribute to the impact of 2009 H1N1 on African American communities.

From April 2009 — September 2009:

  • Almost one-third of people hospitalized with complications from 2009 H1N1 influenza were persons with asthma. Asthma-related hospitalization and mortality rates from all causes, not just influenza, are approximately two to three times higher among non-Hispanic blacks compared with non-Hispanic whites.6
  • Approximately 10 percent of people hospitalized with complications from 2009 H1N1 influenza have been diabetic. Among adults 20 years of age and older, diabetes is more prevalent among non-Hispanic blacks (12%) compared with non-Hispanic whites (7%).7
  • The good news is that African-Americans who are at high-risk 18-49 are getting vaccinated. That’s cool. The bad news is that we lag behind in vaccinations for every other group which is especially worrisome in the under 18 category where the disease is also known to hit hard.

    Why ain’t people getting they babies vaccinated? Well evidently, as a people, we are somewhat…suspicious.

    Again from the CDC:

    Many African Americans are concerned about the safety of influenza vaccines. For example, in a recent survey of 1500 registered voters in California, 17% of survey respondents felt that there was a strong chance that the 2009 H1N1 vaccine was unsafe. However, this concern was twice as high among African Americans.10

    According to a University of Michigan study, despite recommendations emphasizing the importance of vaccinating children against 2009 H1N1, only 40% of parents intended to have their children vaccinated. Broken down by racial background, 52% percent of Hispanic parents, 38% of white parents, and 30% of black parents were planning to have their children vaccinated against 2009 H1N1.

    From Charlotte NC:

    But, why are so few African-Americans getting the vaccine? “I think there’s still a lot of distrust in the African-American community… government programs and medicine,” said Jan Warren-Findlow, a professor of public health at UNC Charlotte, who specializes in research on racial disparities. She points to historical factors, including the Tuskegee experiment, that have left an impact. “I do a lot of research in that community and that certainly comes up,” she said.

    Look black people: I have personally had the swine flu. It was nasty. I saw bodily fluids I’m pretty sure humans are never supposed to see outside their bodies. I couldn’t move literally for several days. It was bad. It goes straight to your lungs and stomach and does not want to let go.

    Also, Baratunde as been @the_swine_flu. That’s a whole other story, however. You can watch his extremely funny yet educational discussion of that from the 2009 Web 2.0 Expo.

    I think we can both tell you that despite the government’s historic & somewhat successful role in trying to kill black people with syphilis and AIDs (just kidding about AIDS! just kidding) — this time, it’s urgent. Swine flu is the dominant flu right now. It’s not going anywhere anytime soon, it seems. Please, please, please — be part of the solution, not the problem. Better to be vaccinated than to be at risk for the disease. Do it for your kids. And if you are under 49, do it for yourself and your community. It is incredibly contagious. Do not think you can just sit by and hope it won’t get ya. Cuz it will.

    Let it not be said that we continued to allow H1N1 to ravage our communities when the vaccine was available. Let it not be said (as is happening in some communities) that we allowed people from outside minority communities to come in and get their kids vaccinated before ours. Let it not be said that we let ignorance and fear prevent us from having healthy kids & healthy families.

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