As fall is seemingly upon us, health departments should start to see some of the first flu cases of the season. Officials warn that there are many populations of people who are at a higher risk for health complications from the flu.
One such group at a higher risk for flu-related complications is Native Americans. Another is Alaskan Natives. However, the reason why isn’t fully understood, but some experts feel that American Indians and Alaskan Natives are at a higher risk of developing flu-related complications as a result of certain social and economic factors, which often result in reduced access to health care and overcrowded living conditions.
One complication of coming down with the flu is the potential for developing pneumonia. Thus, it’s not surprising, given the information above, that the flu and pneumonia rank among the top 10 causes of death for American Indians and Alaskan Natives. In fact, according to the CDC, American Indians and Alaskan Natives are more likely to die from pneumonia and the flu than any other race.
Across the United States, the flu is responsible for causing more than 200,000 hospitalizations each year. For American Indians and Alaskan Natives, this means the risks for pneumonia and bronchitis, hospitalization, and/or death are much higher.
Vaccination against the flu is important, especially for American Indians and Alaskan Natives. As a preventative measure, American Indians and Alaskan Natives should get a yearly flu vaccine if they are otherwise healthy individuals. Flu vaccines are available, or at least should be, at Indian Health Service facilities, tribal or urban clinics, doctor’s offices, pharmacies or grocery stores, and community health fairs.
While the flu vaccine is recommended and the vast majority of those who receive the vaccine experience no adverse reactions, injuries can and do occur. If you believe you or someone you know has been injured by a vaccine, compensation for such injury may be available and we are here to help.