November 1, 2007


Low Rates of Flu Vaccination Underscore Need for Vigilance


Influenza vaccination rates among certain key groups are low, according to three new reports published in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).

During the 2005-2006 flu season, only 31.9 percent of children age 6-23 months received at least one dose of flu vaccine and only 20.6 percent were fully vaccinated, according to CDC. A more recent report using 2006-2007 data from six sentinel sites shows that less than 30 percent of children in this age group and less than 20 percent of children age 24-59 months were fully vaccinated. The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) first recommended influenza vaccination for children age 6-23 months in 2004.

click to enlargeA third report, which tracked coverage by state, showed a decline in vaccination rates for adults. Among adults age 18-49 with high-risk conditions, the flu vaccine coverage rate nationwide was 30.5 percent in 2005-2006—a drop of 5 percentage points since 2003-2004. The report noted declines of 4 or more percentage points among all other adults as well. (See figure.)

The reports underscore the need to increase awareness among health care providers and the public regarding the flu vaccine and the value of vaccinating throughout the flu season.  Other public health implications include the need to monitor vaccine coverage rates, ensure stable supplies of vaccine, and strengthen financing for adult vaccines.

ACIP recommends annual influenza vaccination for children age 6-59 months. Two doses should be given, at least 4 weeks apart, to fully vaccinate children in this age group who are receiving influenza vaccination for the first time.

For adults, ACIP recommends annual influenza vaccination for persons age 18-49 years with high-risk conditions and all adults who want to reduce the risk for becoming ill with influenza or of transmitting flu to others. CDC’s Healthy People 2010 objectives include increasing vaccination levels to 90 percent for adults age 65 and older.

Sources:

Influenza Vaccination Coverage Among Children Aged 6-23 Months—United States, 2005-06 Influenza Season, MMWR, September 21, 2007 / 56(37);959-963.

Influenza Vaccination Coverage Among Children Aged 6-59 Months—Six Immunization Information System Sentinel Sites, United States, 2006-07 Influenza Season, MMWR, September 21, 2007 / 56(37);963-965.

State-Specific Influenza Vaccination Coverage Among Adults Aged >18 Years—United States, 2003-04 and 2005-06 Influenza Seasons, MMWR, September 21, 2007 / 56(37);953-959.

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