WASHINGTON – While influenza vaccination rates have increased in recent years, work still needs to be done to achieve the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s goal of at least 70% vaccination.
“Vaccination is the single-most-important step people can take to protect themselves from influenza,” Dr. Tom Frieden, CDC director said at a press conference called by his agency and the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID). He urged people to get their influenza vaccination and make sure their children do as well.
The CDC estimates that 47% of U.S. residents aged 6 months or older received an influenza vaccination in the last flu season. The only age group that meets the federal 70% benchmark is the 6-23 months age group, with about 75% coverage. Children aged 2-4 years have a vaccination rate of 68%; adults aged 65 years and older have a vaccination rate of 67%; and 62% of children aged 5-12 years get vaccinated. The lowest vaccination rate is among adults aged 18-49 years, of whom only 40% get vaccinated.
Dr. Frieden was joined at the press event by Dr. William Schaffner, NFID medical director; Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson of Seattle Children’s Hospital; and Dr. Kathleen Neuzil, director of the Center for Vaccine Development at the University of Maryland, Baltimore.
In this interview, Dr. Neuzil discusses which strains of influenza are expected to be dominant in the coming flu season, whether to expect a strain mutation similar to what happened last season, the importance of getting children vaccinated, and pneumococcal vaccination for children and older adults.