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More People Getting Flu Shots This Year

Influenza Vaccinations Up Since 2009 Swine Flu Pandemic

By Bill Hendrick
WebMD Health News

Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

Dec. 5, 2011 (Atlanta) -- New CDC numbers show that 36% of adults have already gotten flu shots as of early November -- months before the illness normally sweeps the nation.

That means roughly 111 million adults have received flu shots or the spray flu vaccine so far, the CDC's Anne Schuchat, MD, director of the agency's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said at a media briefing here.

That's a slight uptick from last year, when only 34% of adults had received flu shots this early.

Good Start for Adults and Kids

The numbers are even better for children, who are sometimes more vulnerable to the flu than adults. So far this year, 37% of children have been vaccinated compared to 31% last year, Schuchat said.

Plus, more than half of doctors and medical personnel have been vaccinated, she said, which is good because they're on the front lines of any flu outbreak that could spread.

Adults over 65 are also more vulnerable to the flu, but many of them are paying attention; so far, nearly two-thirds of them have been vaccinated.

Pregnant Women Getting Vaccines

And significantly, she said, 43% of pregnant women have been vaccinated.

"Complacency could lead to regret," Schuchat said, adding that plenty of vaccine remains available at this point, but cautioned that supplies could run low.

She said the flu tends to pick up after the holidays because families get together and people go to parties, making it easier for the flu virus to spread.

Still Plenty of Time to Get Vaccinated

Today's briefing was held to coincide with the start of the annual National Influenza Vaccination Week, established to highlight the importance of continuing flu vaccination into December and beyond.

Howard Koh, MD, assistant secretary for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, who also participated in the news briefing, said the worst of flu season normally occurs in February but can continue until early spring.

SOURCES: Media advisory, CDC.CDC: "National Mid-Season Flu Vaccination Coverage."Howard Koh, MD, assistant secretary for health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.Anne Schuchat, MD, director, CDC National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

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