FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 2016

Massachusetts is top state in flu vaccination rates

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health recently announced that Massachusetts was the top state in terms of influenza vaccination rates during the 2012-2013 season.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's 2012-2013 Behavioral Risk Factor and Surveillance System survey and National Immunization Survey, Massachusetts was number one in vaccination rates with 58 percent of state residents receiving influenza vaccines. The national immunization rate was 45 percent.

The DPH also announced that Massachusetts contains the first state lab in the U.S. to identify a new influenza strain for this season's national flu vaccine.

"The commonwealth's medical innovation is second to none, and I thank our team at DPH for spearheading these public health advances," Governor Deval Patrick said. "Our strong public health outreach and research efforts have led us to this progress, and I hope families and individuals will continue to get vaccinated this season to keep Massachusetts healthy."

According to the CDC surveys, children between the ages of six months and four years of age were vaccinated at a rate of 83 percent, compared to a 70 percent national average. The report also found that disparities in flu vaccination rates between whites and other ethnicities for everyone six months and older virtually disappeared in the state.

"Vaccination rates are increasing thanks to our success in implementing health care reform, our partnerships with providers, and our progress in removing barriers to wellness and preventive services," John Polanowicz, the Massachusetts secretary of health and human services, said.

The DPH said the flu vaccine is now readily available from pharmacies, healthcare providers and flu clinics throughout the state.