As Rob Capriccioso of Indian Country Today reports here, a new report from the federal Centers for Disease Control shows that the H1N1 flu virus does indeed hit Native people harder than the general population – even worse than originally thought, and certainly worse than portrayed by the U.S. government.
The CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, issued Dec. 11, found that 426 people in 12 states died from H1N1 between April 15 and Nov. 13. A substantial number – 42 – were AI/AN [American Indian/Alaska Native].
The report noted that the deaths made up 9.9 percent of all cases, although AI/AN represented only about 3 percent of the general population in the states studied. The states were Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Michigan, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.
“In all age groups, the AI/AN death rate was higher than the rate for all other racial/ethnic populations combined,” the authors wrote. The highest death rates were experienced by infants and elders.
As Capriccioso notes, back in September, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleeen Sebelius downplayed the effects of the flu on Native people.
On the other hand, the secretary didn’t have access to hard data, and did warn people to continue to take aggressive steps to fight the virus.
The main point? There’s plenty of H1N1 vaccine available now, much of it being offered for free. Get your shot.
Tags: buffalo post, H1N1 virus, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Native American news, Swine flu, U.S. Centers for Disease Control, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services