Blog Post

State of the flu: Which Americans are getting vaccinated?

January 16, 2014

    Paige Bashuck, Daily Briefing

    A new report by the Trust for America's Health finds that only about 36% of adults ages 18 to 64 got their flu shot during the 2012-2013 influenza season, and health experts say that a similar percentage are likely getting vaccinated this year.  

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    "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 flu that's circulating," says Jeffrey Levi, executive director of the Trust for America's Health.

    He adds that Americans have found it "easy to become complacent about the flu…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." 

    Who is vaccinated and where do they live?

    Vaccination rates were higher among children ages six months to 17 years (56%) and adults ages 65 and older (66%). Still, 830 children died from flu-related complications between 2004 and 2012—43% of whom were "completely healthy otherwise," according to the report.

    Doctors are more likely to get flu shots than nurses

    The report noted significant geographic variation, with 12 states reporting vaccination rates of 50% or higher during the 2012-13 flu season: 

    • Delaware;
    • Hawaii;
    • Iowa;
    • Maine;
    • Maryland;
    • Massachusetts;
    • Minnesota;
    • Nebraska;
    • North Carolina;
    • Rhode Island;
    • South Dakota; and
    • Tennessee.

    Meanwhile, 32 states had vaccination rates lower than 40%. Florida had the lowest rate (34%), with Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, Nevada, and Wyoming not too far behind.

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