CDC: Falling Flu Vaccination Rates Concerning

(HealthDay News) — Influenza vaccination coverage declined 1.5 percent across the entire U.S. population during the 2015-2016 flu season, with only 46 percent of Americans receiving the annual vaccine, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Thursday.

Adults 50 and older experienced the greatest decreases in vaccination coverage last flu season, the CDC numbers revealed. There was a 3.4 percentage point decrease in flu vaccinations among people 50 to 64 years old, with less than 44 percent receiving vaccination. A similar decrease of 3.3 percentage points occurred among people 65 and older, with 63 percent receiving the protection.

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Toddlers were the best-protected age group during the last flu season, the CDC reported. Flu vaccine coverage for children 6 to 23 months was 75 percent. This is also the only group that exceeded national public health goals of 70 percent vaccination coverage. However, there is some concern that some parents might not get their children vaccinated this season because only injectable flu vaccine is available.

“The nasal spray is no longer recommended,” Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H., director of the CDC, said during a news conference. “We don’t know why, but the vaccine efficacy data from the past couple of years suggests it was not protective.” About one-third of children who get vaccinated against the flu take the nasal spray, experts at the briefing said. They encouraged those parents to get their children a flu shot instead.

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