Chronic Disease and Hospitalisation For Pandemic (H1N1) 2009 Influenza in Indigenous and Non-Indigenous Western Australians
Indigenous and non-indigenous Western Australians with pandemic (H1N1) 2009 influenza (pH1N1) infection were compared for risk factors, influenza vaccination history, symptoms, use of antiviral medications, and hospitalisation. Data were collected systematically on 856 notified cases with laboratory confirmed pH1N1 infection during the first 10 weeks of pH1N1 virus transmission in Western Australia in 2009. Indigenous people with pH1N1 were approximately 3 times more likely to be hospitalised and were more likely to have a range of underlying medical conditions and be smokers, compared with non-Indigenous cases. Age (P < 0.001) and the presence of two or more co-morbidities (P < 0.001) were independent predictors of hospitalisation, while Indigenous status was not, indicating that higher pH1N1 hospitalisation rates in Indigenous Australians during the 2009 winter season were attributable to the higher prevalence of underlying chronic disease. These results underscore the need to ensure that influenza vaccination is delivered as widely as possible among those with chronic health conditions.