WASHINGTON — Just slightly more than one-third of adults aged 18 to 64 got a flu shot last season, compared with two-thirds of seniors and more than half of children, according to an analysis released Tuesday by the Trust for America's Health.
Analyzing public health data from the 2012-2013 flu season, the TFAH found that 35.7% of young and older adults received the vaccine, while 56.6% of those aged 6 months to 17 years did, as did 66.2% of those aged 65 and older. Overall, 45% of Americans were vaccinated, compared with 41.8% in the 2011-2012 season. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends flu shots for everyone aged 6 months and older.
"The trend of low vaccination rates among younger adults is particularly troubling this year, when they are more at risk than usual for the effects of the H1N1 strain of the flu that's circulating," TFAH executive director Jeffrey Levi said.
Among states, Massachusetts had the highest vaccination rate, at 57.5%, while Florida had the lowest, 34.1%. Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Carolina, Rhode Island, South Dakota and Tennessee were the other states that had vaccination rates of 50% or higher. Meanwhile, Florida, Kansas and Wisconsin saw their vaccination rates fall between the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 seasons.
"It's easy to become complacent about the flu," Levi said. "We're used to it; it happens every year, so much so that we forget that it is largely preventable through a quick shot - which I might add is now free to most Americans thanks to the Affordable Care Act. The flu isn't just an uncomfortable inconvenience; it is deadly and costly. And millions of Americans do not even have paid sick leave, so they either go to work sick - infecting others - or do not get paid."