Influenza-Related Hospitalizations and Poverty Levels - United States, 2010-2012

MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2016 Feb 12;65(5):101-5. doi: 10.15585/mmwr.mm6505a1.


Annual influenza vaccine is recommended for all persons aged ≥6 months in the United States, with recognition that some persons are at risk for more severe disease (1). However, there might be previously unrecognized demographic groups that also experience higher rates of serious influenza-related disease that could benefit from enhanced vaccination efforts. Socioeconomic status (SES) measures that are area-based can be used to define demographic groups when individual SES data are not available (2). Previous surveillance data analyses in limited geographic areas indicated that influenza-related hospitalization incidence was higher for persons residing in census tracts that included a higher percentage of persons living below the federal poverty level (3-5). To determine whether this association occurs elsewhere, influenza hospitalization data collected in 14 FluSurv-NET sites covering 27 million persons during the 2010-11 and 2011-12 influenza seasons were analyzed. The age-adjusted incidence of influenza-related hospitalizations per 100,000 person-years in high poverty (≥20% of persons living below the federal poverty level) census tracts was 21.5 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 20.7-22.4), nearly twice the incidence in low poverty (<5% of persons living below the federal poverty level) census tracts (10.9, 95% CI: 10.3-11.4). This relationship was observed in each surveillance site, among children and adults, and across racial/ethnic groups. These findings suggest that persons living in poorer census tracts should be targeted for enhanced influenza vaccination outreach and clinicians serving these persons should be made aware of current recommendations for use of antiviral agents to treat influenza (6).

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • African Americans / statistics & numerical data
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Asian Americans / statistics & numerical data
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • European Continental Ancestry Group / statistics & numerical data
  • Hispanic Americans / statistics & numerical data
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Influenza, Human / epidemiology*
  • Influenza, Human / ethnology
  • Influenza, Human / therapy*
  • Middle Aged
  • Oceanic Ancestry Group / statistics & numerical data
  • Poverty / ethnology
  • Poverty / statistics & numerical data*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult