Flu Vaccine Rates Are High for 2 Seasons in a Row

But CDC Says Vaccine Rates Are Still Short of Government's Long-Term Goals

By Denise Mann
WebMD Health News

Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

June 9, 2011 -- Flu vaccination rates remained high during the 2010-2011 flu season, according to data in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

The 2010-2011 flu season marked the first time that the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommended flu shots for everyone aged 6 months or older. It was also the first flu season after the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, which caused a run on flu vaccines. As a result, there was greater production of seasonal flu shots prepared for the 2010-2011 flu season. This year's flu vaccine protects against both the seasonal flu and H1N1.

And the record high achieved during the H1N1 swine flu pandemic was sustained during 2010-2011 but still falls shy of the goals set forth by the Healthy People 2020 plan, which aims to vaccinate 80% of people aged 6 months to 64 years, 90% of people aged 18 to 64 with high-risk conditions, and 90% of people aged 65 or older.

Room for Improvement

"With universal vaccination recommendations and consistent vaccine available, substantial opportunities remain to increase coverage further," the study authors conclude. This includes vaccinating people at schools, stores, workplaces, and other non-medical locations.

During the 2010-2011 flu season, 42.8% of people aged 6 months and older got flu shots, compared with 41.3% of people in this age group during the 2009-2010 H1N1 epidemic.

There was an increase in child flu vaccination rates during the 2010-2011 flu season, and there were increases seen in the number of non-Hispanic black, non-Hispanic white, and Hispanic children who got the flu shot this year, compared to 2009-2010, the study showed.

Overall, 49% of children aged 6 months to 18 years got a flu shot from September 2010 to March 2011.

Vaccine Rates by State

Among 43 states and Washington, D.C., flu vaccination coverage ranged from 30.2% among people aged 18 to 49 to up to 68.6% for people aged 65 or older.

Flu vaccine rates varied widely by states, the study showed. Among states with the highest overall coverage are Hawaii, Iowa, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Rhode Island.

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SOURCE: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, June 10, 2011; vol 60.

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