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Americans Continue to Skip the Flu Vaccine

Update Date: Jan 15, 2014 10:28 AM EST
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Every year, the United States' Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends people over the age of six-months to get the flu vaccine. Despite the agency's efforts, a new analysis found that around one-third of adults between the ages of 18 and 65 got vaccinated during the 2012-2013 flu season.

"The trend of low vaccination rates among younger adults is particularly troubling this year, when they are more at risk than usual for the effects of the H1N1 strain of flu that's circulating," said Jeffrey Levi, executive director of Trust for America's Health, the nonprofit health advocacy group that conducted the analysis.

According to a recent CDC report, this year's flu is targeting young and healthy children and adults. The strain, H1N1, which is circulating the majority of the states, was responsible for the pandemic in 2009. The CDC stated that the flu is currently widespread in 35 states with the highest levels in Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas and Utah.

The report found that for adults between 18 and 64-years-old, the vaccination rate was just 35.7 percent during last year's season. For children between six months and 17-years-old, the vaccination rate was relatively higher at 56.6 percent. For seniors over the age of 65, the vaccination rate was 66.2 percent. When the researchers analyzed regional numbers, they reported that the highest vaccination rate at 57.5 percent was in Massachusetts and the lowest rate was in Florida at 34.1 percent. Only 12 states had vaccination rates of over 50 percent.

The report calculated that during last year's flu season, only 45 percent of Americans were vaccinated. Even though this percentage is higher than the 41.8 percent during the 2011-2012 flu season, the agency stated that vaccination rates are still too low. The flu vaccine is considered the best preventative option against the flu.

This year's vaccines are available as a shot or a nasal spray and protects against three or four strains of the flu. The trivalent vaccines protect against two influenza A strains and on influenza B strain. The quadrivalent vaccines protect against two types of influenza A and two types of influenza B. The flu season is expected to peak anytime from mid-January to February. However, it is never too late to get vaccinated because the peak could occur later.

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