Flu vaccinations hit record levels last year

A record 40 percent of adults and children, fearing swine flu, received the ordinary seasonal flu last year, federal health officials said this week.

Vaccinations increased in health adults under 50, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researchers said, noting that the previous high for seasonal flu vaccination rates of 33 percent came in the 2008-2009 season.

Recommendations were made for approximately 85 percent of Americans during last year's flu vaccine campaign, especially children, pregnant women, senior citizens, health care workers and people with chronic health conditions.

For citizens 65 years of age or older, nearly 70 percent received the flu vaccine, the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report says, while the rate of vaccination for children jumped dramatically by two-thirds, from 24 percent to 40 percent.

The highest seasonal vaccination rate was found in Hawaii, which saw nearly 55 percent of its citizens vaccinated. The number of vaccinations in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Maine followed close behind Hawaii's numbers.

Florida, Georgia, Mississippi and Alabama were at the bottom of the list for vaccinations at under 36 percent.

Robert Blendon, a Harvard University public health professor who runs polling on public attitudes towards flu vaccination, told that swine flu was a strong motivator for those receiving flu shots in 2009 but that it wasn't clear if as many people will get vaccinated this year.

Health officials "are going to need a high level of campaigning to keep people focused on doing this year after year," Blendon told