Flu vaccine uptake rises nine percent

According to a US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey, flu vaccine uptake in the United States rose nine percentage points from the first look in November to 42.3 percent.

This number is slightly above last season’s 42.1 percent level, CIDRAP News reports. Public health officials had been interested to see how the new universal flu immunization recommendation, including most people ages six months and older, would affect vaccine uptake levels.

A telephone poll conducted by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago included responses from around 31,000 people. In November, the same survey showed solid vaccine uptake with 33 percent of Americans already vaccinated, 25 percent said they would probably be immunized and 15 percent said that they definitely planned to get vaccinated.

The latest survey reported showed that flu activity remained low in most parts of the country until the middle of December, when it increased through early February. Public health hoped that a simpler universal flu vaccination message and a record 160 million to 165 million doses of flu vaccine would boost uptake.

The CDC said flu vaccination rates were higher for children through age 17, at 46.3 percent, than for adults at 41.1 percent, CIDRAP News reports. Vaccine coverage varied from region to region, from 52.7 percent among adults in Cumberland County, Maine, to a low in Los Angeles among adults of 35.1 percent in Los Angeles.

Most adults - 48.6 percent - thought the vaccine was safe, while 33.6 percent felt it was somewhat safe. Most - 38.5 percent - responded that the vaccine was very effective.