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American Indians, Alaska Natives, and the Flu

Protect Indian Country by Getting Your Flu Vaccine

A flu vaccine not only protects you but also your community.

Vaccination against influenza (flu) is especially important for American Indians and Alaska Natives, who are at higher risk for complications from the flu. Compared to the general U.S. population, American Indians and Alaska Natives are more likely to be hospitalized from the flu. Reasons that American Indians and Alaska Natives may be at high risk of flu complications include social and economic factors that often result in reduced access to health care and crowded living conditions.

Within the community there are certain people that have a greater chance of becoming severely ill from the flu, including pregnant women, babies and young children, and elders. In fact, pneumonia and flu are two leading causes of death among Native elders. The flu can also worsen certain health conditions, including diabetes, asthma, and heart and lung disease. American Indians and Alaska Natives have high rates of these chronic health conditions, and are therefore at risk of developing severe complications from flu.

People who get vaccinated may have fewer flu illnesses and doctors' visits, and miss less work due to flu. Vaccination also prevents flu-related hospitalizations and deaths. A flu vaccine can prevent you from spreading the virus to your loved ones, and can help protect your community from influenza. Please protect yourself and those you care about by getting vaccinated against the flu this season.

The Flu Vaccine is Safe

People have been receiving flu vaccines for more than 50 years, and hundreds of millions of people have safely received seasonal flu vaccines. Each year, CDC works closely with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other partners to ensure the highest safety standards for flu vaccines.

The flu vaccine—shot or spray—does not cause flu illness; however, it can cause mild side effects that may be mistaken for flu. For example, people vaccinated with the flu shot may feel achy and may have a sore arm where the shot was given. People vaccinated with the nasal spray flu vaccine may have a stuffy nose and sore throat. These mild side effects are NOT the flu. If experienced at all, these effects are usually mild and last only 1-2 days.

Since influenza viruses are always changing and immunity wanes over time, it is important to get a flu vaccine every season.

Where to Get Vaccinated

Photo: Young native child

American Indians and Alaska Natives can protect themselves and their loved ones by getting vaccinated against the flu. Vaccines are available at your local healthcare facility (even if you don’t have a regular doctor or nurse), mobile and community-based immunization clinics, and at pharmacies and grocery stores. Check with your Community Health Representative (CHR) or Community Health Aide (CHA) for more information. Keep your community and Indian Country healthy by getting vaccinated against the flu.

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