Geographic Variation in Racial Disparities in Mortality From Influenza and Pneumonia in the United States in the Pre-Coronavirus Disease 2019 Era

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Background: In 2018, influenza and pneumonia was the eighth leading cause of death in the United States. Since 1950, non-Hispanic blacks (NHBs) have experienced higher rates of mortality than non-Hispanic whites (NHWs). Previous studies have revealed geographic variation in mortality rates by race. The identification of areas with the greatest disparity in influenza and pneumonia mortality may assist policymakers in the allocation of resources, including for the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic. Research Question: Does geographic variation in racial disparity in influenza and pneumonia mortality exist? Study Design and Methods: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention database for Multiple Cause of Death between 1999 and 2018 for NHB and NHW decedents ≥ 25 years of age with a Tenth Revision of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems code for influenza (J09-J11) and pneumonia (J12-J18) was used. Age-adjusted mortality rates (AAMRs) with 95% CIs were computed by race for Health & Human Services (HHS) regions and urbanization in NHBs and NHWs. Results: In 1999 through 2018, there were 540,476 deaths among NHBs and NHWs 25 to 84 years of age. AAMRs were higher in NHBs than NHWs in each age group and in seven of 10 HHS regions. The greatest disparity was in HHS regions 2 (New York and New Jersey) and 9 (Arizona, California, Hawaii, and Nevada). In HHS region 2, NHBs (24.6; 95% CI, 24.1-25.1) were more likely to die than NHWs (15.7; 95% CI, 15.6-15.9). Similarly, in region 9, NHBs (23.2; 95% CI, 22.7-23.8) had higher mortality than NHWs (16.1; 95% CI, 15.9-16.2). Within these regions, disparities were greatest in the core of major metropolitan areas. A very high AAMR in NHBs was noted in large, central metropolitan areas of region 2: 28.2 (95% CI, 27.6-28.9). Interpretation: In 1999 through 2018, the NHB-NHW disparity in AAMRs from influenza and pneumonia was greatest in central metropolitan areas of HHS regions 2 and 9.

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