October 8, 2014
CDC Reports Small Increase in Flu Vaccinations Last Season

AtlantaWhile influenza vaccination rates increased slightly from the previous year, coverage for all adults and children older than 23 months remained below Healthy People 2020 targets of 70%, according to the CDC.

The CDC reported recently in its FluVaxView report that vaccinations among adults increased by only 0.7% and 2.3% for children for the 2013–14 season compared to the 2012–13 season. Those rates varied significantly by state and racial/ethnic groups, however.

In fact, looking across all age cohorts, coverage during the 2013–14 increased by one percentage point for non-Hispanic whites compared to the previous season but didn’t budge for any other racial/ethnic groups.

“An annual flu vaccination is the best way to prevent flu and is recommended for all persons 6 months of age and older,” the CDC reports. “Based on a study of the 2012–13 flu season, flu vaccination was found to have prevented an estimated 6.6 million illnesses, 3.2 million medically attended illnesses, and 79,260 hospitalizations.”

With vaccination the most effective strategy against flu and serious flu-related complications, the CDC is calling for expanded use of nontraditional settings such as pharmacies, the workplace, and school venues to reach Americans who may not visit a regular physician’s office during flu season.

Public health officials also suggest that medical sites increase access to vaccination services by methods such as reducing client costs and home visits, as well as recommending a flu vaccine to all patients who visit.

According to the statistics from the flu season ending this spring, coverage among adults 18 years and older went up with increasing age. While just 32.3% of adults 18-49 and 45.3% of those 50-64 were immunized, 65% of seniors 65 and older got flu vaccines. Overall, 42.2% were vaccinated last flu season compared to 41.5% the year before.

State-specific coverage for adults varied widely, however, ranging from 32.3% in Nevada to 54.0% in South Dakota. Racial and ethnic background also made a difference, according to the CDC.

Among all Americans 6 months old or older, coverage for non-Hispanic whites (47.4%) was higher than non-Hispanic blacks (41.5%), Hispanics (44.3%), and people of other or multiple races (42.9%). Coverage for Asians at 51.3% and American Indians/Alaska Natives at 48% was highest among specific identity groups.

U.S. Pharmacist Social Connect