Statistics reporting that diabetes and asthma in American Indians and Alaska Natives are high risk factors for influenza complications has placed the Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin in a pro-active mode in dealing with the H1N1 virus.
A third and final H1N1 influenza vaccine clinic will be hosted by the Oneida Community Health Center on Jan. 20 from 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the Oneida Nation Elementary School, N7125 Seminary Road, Oneida. This clinic is free and is open to the public.
A nasal mist or injection vaccine will be provided based on age and health history.
Diabetes, asthma high-risk factors to influenza
Eric R. Krawczyk, community/public health officer for the Oneida Tribe, said the high-risk factors are mainly due to the chronic health conditions of diabetes and asthma within the two cultures.
“It kind of pre-disposes them to influenza complications,” said Krawczyk. “The H1N1 virus is a respiratory disease already and it could lead to more complications.”
“Diabetics tend to heal slower and the virus could develop into pneumonia,” he said.
The age-specific prevalence of diabetes in American Indians and Alaska Native adults is two to three times higher than for all U.S. adults, reported the Center of Disease Control and Prevention.
Besides diabetes and asthma, the CDC reported poverty, such as poor living conditions, and delayed access to care also may contribute to influenza complications.
H1N1 death rate higher within the 2 cultures
Recent findings by the CDC reported Arizona and New Mexico “observed a disproportionate number of deaths related to H1N1 among American Indians and Alaska Natives.”
A total of 426 H1N1 deaths were reported by 12 states during April 15 to November 13, 2009. American Indians and Alaska Natives comprised 42 of the total deaths, a mortality rate four times higher than persons in all other racial/ethnic populations combined, stated the report, published by the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
Krawczyk said education was key as the tribe formed an H1N1 communication group. With assistance from Brown County and the Brown County Health Department, the tribe has been able to provide about 1,300 doses of the vaccine.
“It was a concern last October and November,” he said. “We were crazy busy with phone calls. People really wanted to know what was going on.
“We’re getting people from Appleton and Green Bay coming to the clinics.”
The Oneida Reservation is located seven miles west of Green Bay.