111 million vaccinated for flu this year

Rise seen in shots among at-risk groups

About 111 million people have already been vaccinated against flu this year, but health advocates are pushing for
more.

 

Thirty-six percent of the 305 million people who are 6 months or older had received the vaccine by early November, an increase of 3.5 percent over the same period last year, said Dr. Anne Schuchat, the director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Last season, about 43 percent of those eligible for vaccine in the U.S. received it, including 41.9 percent in Georgia and 46.7 percent in South Carolina.

Last year was the first year the vaccine was recommended for everyone age 6 months and older.

Some progress has been made in priority groups, such as health care workers and pregnant women, officials said.

Before the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, 15 percent or less of pregnant women would get a flu shot every year; that number shot up to 50 percent during the pandemic and stayed at 49 percent last year, the CDC has reported.

About 43 percent of pregnant women report being vaccinated so far, about the same rate as last year, Schuchat said. About 63 percent of health care workers have received the flu shot, an increase of 7 percent over the same time last year, said Dr. Howard Koh, the assistant secretary for health in the Department of Health and Human Services.

The level of flu remains low across the country, with Georgia reporting none through late last month. Illness typically picks up after the holidays, though.

“Now is a great time to get vaccinated,” Schuchat said.

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