AAIP and CDC Partnership Aims to Boost Flu and Shingles Vaccination Rates for American Indian and Alaskan Native Communities
The Association of American Indian Physicians (AAIP), a national nonprofit committed to improving the health of American Indian and Alaskan Native (AI/AN) communities, has joined forces with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to encourage higher rates of influenza and shingles vaccinations among AI/AN individuals.
The impact of influenza and shingles outbreaks on tribal communities is significant. Therefore, the partnership between AAIP and the CDC aims to protect not only individuals but also vulnerable populations, such as children and elders, and the traditions that enrich AI/AN cultures.
Statistics from the CDC reveal that flu and pneumonia rank among the top 10 leading causes of death among American Indians. Additionally, research indicates that shingles, a virus causing a distressing and itchy rash, can lead to dangerous complications and affects approximately 1 million Americans each year.
AAIP’s executive director, Tom Anderson (Cherokee), emphasizes the importance of vaccination in safeguarding tribal communities. In his words, When you get vaccinated, you’re not only protecting yourself – you’re protecting your family, vulnerable populations like children and elders, and the rich traditions that bolster our cultures. Anderson expresses gratitude for the partnership with the CDC, recognizing the significance of their collective efforts.
Dr. Lukejohn Day (Oglala Lakota), president of AAIP, highlights the higher risk faced by American Indians and Alaskan Natives in terms of health complications from the flu. To address this, he encourages individuals and their families to get the flu vaccine as soon as possible. Dr. Donald Warn (Oglala Lakota), an AAIP member physician, stresses the seriousness of the shingles virus for Indigenous communities. Adults over 50 are strongly encouraged to receive the shingles vaccine.
To enhance awareness and accessibility to vaccines among tribal communities, AAIP has launched aaipvax.org, a website containing valuable information, informative videos from AAIP physicians, trending topics, and safety guidelines. Furthermore, AAIP has developed and shared public service announcements (PSAs) via various media platforms, including television, radio, and social media channels, targeting the areas where member physicians and patients reside.
In addition to promoting flu and shingles vaccinations, AAIP is also committed to providing resources for families concerned about respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). Studies indicate that RSV disproportionately affects Indigenous communities, with Alaskan Native infants experiencing one of the highest hospitalization rates for RSV among U.S. children. In the southwest U.S., one in ten American Indian babies will be hospitalized for RSV each year. Earlier this year, the FDA approved the first-ever vaccine and antibodies to protect infants and adults against RSV. AAIP is collaborating with the CDC to develop resources and recommendations specifically tailored to AI/AN families.
AI/AN families are advised to consult their healthcare provider, pharmacy, or local tribal clinic for vaccine availability and recommendations. To stay updated on AAIP’s campaign, visit aaipvax.org.
In conclusion, the partnership between AAIP and the CDC is aimed at promoting higher vaccination rates for influenza and shingles among American Indian and Alaskan Native communities. By taking action, individuals can protect themselves, their families, and the broader AI/AN population from the devastating effects of these viruses. AAIP’s efforts to enhance awareness and accessibility through aaipvax.org and various media channels demonstrate their commitment to improving the health and well-being of tribal communities.