Flu shot rates on the rise for kids, adults

Megan Knowles - Print  | 

The number of children and adults vaccinated for the flu as of mid-November increased significantly compared to last year, according to CDC data released Dec. 14.

The data, drawn from three CDC-sponsored surveys, found flu vaccination coverage among children and teens rose nearly 7 percentage points compared with the same time last flu season. Flu vaccination coverage among adults increased 6.4 percentage points.

The data did not indicate whether more people will be vaccinated overall this winter or that last year's flu season is changing behavior this year, but the increase may show more people chose to get their flu shot sooner this year.

"It's a good sign, but it's too early to interpret," Michael Osterholm, PhD, director of the University of Minnesota's Center for Infectious Diseases Research and Policy in Minneapolis, told STAT.

The rise in early vaccinations could be due to fresh memories of last year's severe flu season, which killed about 80,000 people, but Dr. Osterholm said other factors could also be contributing.

"I don't know if that's what did it, or if in fact there are more organized programs to get people vaccinated," he told STAT.

The CDC is encouraging healthcare providers to recommend and offer flu shots to all patients to improve vaccination coverage this season.

More articles on clinical leadership and infection control:
Black teenagers less likely to get flu shots, study finds
Flu activity slightly elevated: 5 things to know
10 most-read flu stories in 2018

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