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Delays and declines in seasonal influenza vaccinations due to Hurricane Harvey narrow annual gaps in vaccination by race, income and rurality.

Carrel MA, Clore GS, Kim S, Goto M, Perencevich EN, Sarrazin MV. Delays and declines in seasonal influenza vaccinations due to Hurricane Harvey narrow annual gaps in vaccination by race, income and rurality. Infection control and hospital epidemiology. 2022 Mar 16; 1-7.

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OBJECTIVE: Temporal overlap of the Atlantic hurricane season and seasonal influenza vaccine rollout has the potential to result in delays or disruptions of vaccination campaigns. We documented seasonal influenza vaccination behavior over a 5-year period and explored associations between flooding following Hurricane Harvey and timing and uptake of vaccines, as well as how the impacts of Hurricane Harvey on vaccination vary by race, wealth, and rurality. DESIGN: Retrospective cohort analysis. SETTING: Texas counties affected by Hurricane Harvey. PATIENTS: Active users of the Veterans' Health Administration in 2017. METHODS: We used geocoded residential address data to assess flood exposure status following Hurricane Harvey. Days to receipt of seasonal influenza vaccines were calculated for each year from 2014 to 2019. Proportional hazards models were used to determine how likelihood of vaccination varied according to flood status as well as the race, wealth, and rural-urban residence of patients. RESULTS: The year of Hurricane Harvey was associated with a median delay of 2 weeks to vaccination and lower overall vaccination than in prior years. Residential status in flooded areas was associated with lower hazards of influenza vaccination in all years. White patients had higher proportional hazards of influenza vaccination than non-White patients, though this attenuated to 6.39% (hazard ratio [HR], 1.0639; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.034-1.095) in the hurricane. year. CONCLUSIONS: Receipt of seasonal influenza vaccination following regional exposure to the effects of Hurricane Harvey was delayed among US veterans. White, non-low-income, and rural patients had higher likelihood of vaccination in all years of the study, but these gaps narrowed during the hurricane year.

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