Mid-Season Flu Immunization Rates Are Too Low
A new survey of approximately 4,000 American adults reveals that fewer than one-third (29.6 percent) have been vaccinated against the flu this season. The survey is the first of its kind to measure self-reported influenza vaccination rates during a current flu season.
"This information is extremely relevant and timely considering influenza activity usually peaks in February and the complications can be devastating and even fatal," said William Schaffner, MD, President-Elect, National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) and Chairman of the Department of Preventive Medicine and Professor of Infectious Diseases in the Department of Medicine, Vanderbilt University. "This current rate of influenza vaccination is sadly too low, but there is still time to do better this season. It's a matter of both personal protection and public health."
The release of these survey results coincides with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) National Influenza Vaccination Week. The event is designed to highlight the importance of influenza vaccination and encourage greater use of influenza vaccines through December and the start of the new calendar year.
In past years, the flu and its complications have caused an average of approximately 36,000 deaths per year (during 1990-1999) and more than 200,000 hospitalizations per year (during 1979-2001). Most of these deaths occurred in people 65 years of age and older. The CDC has stated that influenza vaccination is the most effective method for preventing flu and its complications, which have the potential to be severe.
Dr. Schaffner continued, "Manufacturers are providing more influenza vaccine doses than ever before, however myths about influenza vaccination continue to be a main barrier to immunization."