With influenza season upon us, many physicians have expressed concern about the possibility that vulnerable patients may contract both COVID-19 and influenza, with potentially serious health consequences. To assist you and your practices in ensuring more patients receive the flu vaccine this year, Northwestern Medicine has updated and developed a series of NM flu vaccination tools, including clinic and hospital signage, patient messaging through MyNM, mail and email templates, patient information on the Flu (Influenza) page on nm.org, and social media campaigns.
Another concern this flu season is the disparity in the proportion of Black and Latinx patients who accept the vaccine. This disparity is documented in the literature, including research from the CDC and three studies (see below) led in part by Kenzie Cameron, PhD, MPH, research professor of Medicine (General Internal Medicine and Geriatrics), Medical Education, Medical Social Sciences and Preventive Medicine, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Across NM, we have observed a sizable gap in flu vaccine acceptance among members of Black and Latinx communities. The gap between white and Black patients ranges from 6 to 15 percentage points, and the gap between non-Latinx and Latinx patients is between 3 and 7 percentage points.
Black and Latinx communities have been hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the disparity in influenza vaccination rates may place them at even greater risk for contracting dual infections with influenza and COVID-19. Our equity goal at NM is to reduce and close the gap in vaccination rates. To help you achieve flu equity, a team of NM and Northwestern University staff has developed resources that are tailored specifically to address vaccine hesitancy among Black and Latinx patients.
Flu equity resources available to you and your practices include:
Tips for Working With Vaccine-Hesitant Patients [VIDEO] – a five-minute video featuring NM physicians Muriel Jean-Jacques, MD, and Jose Magana, MD, as well as several medical assistants, describing their personal techniques and best practices to address vaccine hesitancy in patients
As healthcare professionals, we have a unique opportunity to make a difference in vital health outcomes for our communities by encouraging patients who may be most at risk, as well all patients, to receive the flu vaccination this year. These tools will assist you in having conversations with patients and addressing myths about the flu vaccine. Use the “myth, fact, why” framework to help you build trust and reach patients effectively.
For additional information about influenza vaccination disparity, please view the following research from Dr. Cameron: