The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have reported low overall flu vaccination rates of 40% for this season, a similar number as last year’s coverage.

The current estimates are based on survey data from up to early November and show that 37% of children aged 6 months to 17 years and 41% of adults aged ≥18 years have received the flu vaccine. The Healthy People 2020 goal is to reach 70% coverage across all age groups.  

“We are urging parents to make sure their children get a flu shot this season, as the nasal-spray vaccine is not recommended for the 2016–2017 flu season. An annual flu vaccine is very important protection for children,” said Joe Bresee, MD, chief of the Epidemiology and Prevention Branch of CDC’s Influenza Division. 

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Of particular concern are adults aged 50 years of age and older. Estimates for 2015–16 showed a three percentage point decrease in vaccine coverage among people ≥50 years when compared to the 2014–15 numbers.

Pregnant women had a vaccination rate of 47%, six percentage points higher than early estimates last season. Healthcare workers had a vaccination rate of 69%, similar to last year’s rate. Vaccination among healthcare personnel working in long-term care facilities was the lowest among healthcare workers with an early estimate this season of 55% coverage.

Additionally, the CDC released a report on the 2015–16 flu season, finding that if vaccination rates had been five percentage points higher, another 500,000 flu illnesses and 6,000 flu-related hospitalizations could have been prevented. Since 2010, the CDC estimates that flu-related hospitalizations ranged from 140,000 to 710,000. While influenza associated deaths are estimated to have ranged from 12,000 to 56,000.

As influenza activity peaks between December and February, the CDC indicated that vaccination after November will still offer substantial protection during most seasons.

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