Are You One in 111 Million?
Dec 05, 2011

Today marks the start of National Influenza Vaccination Week and so I ask; are you one in 111 million?
If you’ve already received your influenza vaccination this season than, congratulations…you are!
According to today’s telebriefing on U.S. influenza activity and vaccination rates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it’s estimated that as many as 36% of the general public (which represents a total of 111 million) have been vaccinated against seasonal influenza in the U.S. as of the beginning of November.   These mid-fall statistics were compiled after phone surveys were conducted during the first two weeks of November, and while final results will not be available until the end of the season, all indications are pointing to a slight increase in this season’s flu vaccine uptake versus last year’s data.
According to the CDC’s estimates, influenza rates among the general public are up about 3.5% from this time last year.  What’s even more encouraging are that the statistics suggest greater vaccine coverage among certain high-risk populations including children, seniors and pregnant women.
As of the beginning of November, surveys indicate that 37% of children had been vaccinated this year, as compared to 31% at this time last year.  While 90% of these children were vaccinated in a medical setting, 5% received doses at school and others took advantage of greater accessibility to the vaccine by utilizing commercial sites such as pharmacies.
Since seniors tend to be some of the most high risk flu patients each year, it’s great to hear that the highest overall uptake of the vaccine this year has been seen among senior citizens, with 62% of people 65 and over having already been vaccinated.  And since pregnant women tend to develop complications from influenza at the same rate as the elderly population, it’s reassuring to note that nearly 43% of pregnant women have already been vaccinated, and about half of those received their vaccines from their OB/GYN.
Another encouraging trend was among healthcare personnel.  It appears that there have been a 7% increase in vaccination uptake among healthcare personnel this year, as compared with this same time last year.  As of November, 63% of healthcare personnel had already been vaccinated and 79% of them were vaccinated at work.  Since about 200,000 people are hospitalized in the U.S. each year with influenza, and roughly 36,000 people die from influenza each year, it’s not only important for healthcare workers to be vaccinated in order to prevent the spread of influenza to patients they are treating, but also to protect themselves.
With all this great news coming out today, it’s important that we stress that if haven’t had a flu shot yet, than National Influenza Vaccination Week is a perfect time to get out and do it.

Consider these points: 

  • It takes two weeks to build immunity after receiving the vaccine.
  • People tend to fall victim to disease as they travel and congregate with family over the December holidays.
  • Early indications suggest that the strains circulating this year appear to be a good match to the protection offered in this year’s vaccine.
  • Influenza typically peaks in the winter months, so it’s important to be vaccinated before you risk exposure.
  • The supply of influenza vaccine is fixed, so if you want to ensure you get vaccinated, don’t delay.

For more information regarding influenza and vaccination, check out the Vaccinate Your Baby website, and the CDC’s dedicated flu pages .  We hope you’ll stay tuned this week as we draw attention to various events happening as part of National Influenza Vaccination Week.

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