Some improvement in flu vaccination rates there s still more work to be done

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As we brace ourselves for flu season this year, and once again begin the push for the flu vaccination, here s some news about vaccination rates last season. According to the CDC, about 57 percent of children ages 6 months through 17 years were vaccinated, an increase of about five pct. from the 2011-2012 flu season, and an increase of thirteen pct. from the 2010-2011 flu season. However, the numbers actually declined for adults 18 years and older, with only 42 percent getting the flu shot, an increase of only three pct. from the 2011-2012 flu season. These numbers come from two surveys: The National Immunization Survey for children and the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System for adults.

The CDC has also done investigations using self-selected Internet panels looking into vaccination rates for pregnant women and healthcare providers. Among about 1,700 respondents, approximately 50 percent of women who were pregnant between October 2012 and January 2013 reported getting vaccinated either before or during their pregnancies. Some specifics illustrate the key role healthcare providers play in attaining higher rates of immunization among pregnant women an intervention that has been shown to markedly reduce both maternal and neonatal adverse outcomes. Rates were highest in those women whose providers both recommended getting the flu vaccine and also provided the vaccine (71 percent in those circumstances got vaccinated). The lowest rates were seen in those women whose doctors did neither an abysmal 16 percent!

The second Internet survey found that among healthcare providers, 72 percent had received the flu vaccine. Physicians had the highest rates of vaccination (92 percent), while nurses had the lowest (85 percent). The results also showed that those working in hospitals had higher vaccination rates than those working in long-term care facilities.

ACSH s Dr. Gilbert Ross says, These trends are somewhat encouraging, but as we at ACSH have been saying repeatedly, healthcare workers who refuse to be vaccinated should have no interaction with patients, especially with sick and immunocompromised patients. And the vaccine is also perfectly safe for pregnant women and children. There is really no excuse for not getting the flu vaccine. And for seniors concerned that recent data shows that it s not so effective in eliciting a good immune response: ask for the senior strength shot, which has a four-fold dose.