U.S. officials begin campaign for flu shots

Public health officials in the United States recently began a campaign recommending flu shots for all Americans above the age of six months.

Officials are attempting to capitalize on the significant gains in flu vaccination rates made over the last few years. Last year, nearly 43 percent of Americans - 131 million people - were vaccinated against influenza, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As memories of the 2009 influenza pandemic begin to fade, however, health officials want to encourage Americans to get vaccinated, in part by offering the shots in more places and in new forms, including one using a tiny needle that reportedly makes the experience nearly painless, according to CNN.

"Eight million more Americans got vaccinated against the flu last year. That is the most people who have ever been vaccinated in this country," Dr. Thomas Frieden, the director of the CDC, said, CNN reports. "It's getting easier to do that in terms of the ways you can get vaccinated and the amount of vaccine available.”

More and more doctors are recommending the flu shot for pregnant women. Last year, approximately half of all pregnant women were inoculated, Frieden said, according to CNN.

Vaccination rates for children also rose last year. More than half of U.S. children received the vaccine, up approximately seven percent from last year.

The CDC recently announced that there will be an ample supply of the vaccine available in time for the flu season. More than 85 million doses are already available, with another estimated 81 million expected to come from the five companies that produce the flu vaccine for the U.S. market.