Saying that a new campaign could save lives in the African-American community, actress Tia Mowry has embarked on an effort to encourage people to get flu vaccinations, according to Atlanta Black Star.
Mowry, who co-stars with her twin sister on the Style Network’s Tia & Tamera, has teamed with MedImmune Specialty Care, a division of pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca, to launch an awareness campaign encouraging people to get an annual flu vaccination.
In the online commercial, I Insist, Mowry interlaces humor with education to inform families about the importance of making vaccinations a priority. It doesn’t hurt that the company’s vaccine is a nasal mist, she says.
“That’s one of the main reasons I joined. It’s the one vaccine that is needle-free. I’m one of those people who is not fond of needles,” Mowry said.
The campaign is a worthy mission for Mowry. It comes at a time when less than half of adults and just over half of children in the U.S. receive flu vaccinations. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services also reports that African-American senior citizens are 30 percent less likely to receive flu or pneumonia vaccines than white seniors. Failure to obtain such preventive treatments could lead to more frequent hospital visits and even death, health officials say.
In an interview at the end of last flu season on NPR’s “Tell Me More,” Mark Thompson, a CDC epidemiologist, told host Michel Martin there were a variety of reasons that black seniors refuse to get vaccinated.
“African-Americans are less likely to be insured or have a medical home, so one of the barriers is access, to being able to be in the doctor’s office in the fall to get the vaccine,” Thompson said. “We’ve also found that in some studies African-Americans are more likely to have concerns about the vaccine, to believe in certain myths about the vaccine,” including that it could actually give a patient the flu.
Health experts say people who contract the flu after receiving the vaccine have already been exposed to the virus, but not shown symptoms before being vaccinated.
Until recently, Mowry says, she had been unaware of the flu vaccine or the need for it. “But now that she knows the impact that flu can have on one’s health, she felt it was important to encourage the public to get vaccinated,” according to Atlanta Black Star. She hopes people will listen.