Flu season and vaccine coverage: 6 things to know

About 44 percent of U.S. adults are unsure or don't plan on getting vaccinated against the flu this season, health officials from the CDC and National Foundation for Infectious Diseases said during an Oct. 7 news conference.

This comes as health officials predict relaxed COVID-19 mitigation measures coupled with low protective immunity from last year will lead to a worse influenza season this year. Flu season typically runs from October through March in the U.S., with peaks most often observed in December and February. 

During the 2020-21 flu season, flu activity was historically low. Since the U.S. saw such low flu activity, largely due to widespread COVID-19 prevention measures, there is a lack of protective immunity from last year. 

"Population immunity is likely lower [this year], putting us all at increased risk this year, especially those who are most vulnerable," said Rochelle Walensky, MD, CDC director. 

Those at high risk of severe flu complications include people ages 65 and older, those with chronic health conditions, and children, according to the CDC

Five more things to know: 

1. So far this year, about 8 percent of adults in the U.S. have received their flu shot, though this influenza vaccination season is just getting started, a spokesperson for the NFID told Becker's. Updates on flu vaccination coverage will be posted monthly. 

2. About one in four people who are considered to be high risk do not plan on getting vaccinated against the flu this year, according to survey data shared during the news conference. 

3. Of those who don't plan on getting their flu shot this year, 39 percent said they don't think vaccines work very well. 

4. Fifty-four percent of those surveyed plan to wear a mask during this flu season. 

5. While there was an increase in vaccine coverage among adults last year compared to the 2019-20 season, it decreased among children from 64 percent to 59 percent, likely due to pandemic-related access disruptions.

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