Health officials pleased by rise in flu vaccination rates

CDC reports rise in vaccinations among children, adults, elderly

WASHINGTON — Flu vaccination coverage in children increased dramatically during the last season, with smaller increases in coverage among adults, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly report, the CDC said this week that coverage for children aged 6 months through 17 years during the 2012-2013 season was 56.6%, a 5.1% increase from the 2011-2012 season. Coverage among adults was up by 2.7%, at 41.5%. Some gaps were seen between rates on a state-by-state basis.

"Despite substantial progress, we can do even more to make our country healthier through prevention," Department of Health and Human Services assistant secretary for health Howard Koh said Thursday while announcing the results alongside other health officials at the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases. "Flu vaccination should represent a simple investment we make year in and year out to maximize the gift of health."

Elderly people showed the highest vaccination rates, with 66%, along with young children aged 6 months to 4 years, who showed rates of 70%. But most exciting to officials was that rates among those aged 18 to 49, who have proven tougher to reach, also showed increases. Among that age cohort, vaccination coverage was 31%, 2.5% higher than in 2011-2012. A record high of 72% of healthcare personnel also received vaccinations.

The vaccination supply for this year is "plentiful," according to data, with about 135 million doses available at retail stores, pharmacies, clinics and hospitals, doctor's offices, public health clinics and workplaces.

"We have more types of vaccine available than ever before, and there are one or more options that are right for everyone," immediate past president of the NFID William Schaffner said.

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