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Many have had H1N1 flu, many have had a shot -- and many remain vulnerable

January 15, 2010 |  3:17 pm

An estimated 18% of Americans have fallen ill with H1N1 flu, but about 20% have been vaccinated against the strain, according to new estimates released today by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The new numbers show that most of the U.S. population remains susceptible to falling ill with H1N1, also known as the swine flu.

“Now that there is ample supply of vaccine, efforts should continue to improve vaccination coverage among persons in initial target groups, as well as to offer vaccination to the rest of the U.S. population,” the CDC said in an early release publication of its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

The numbers, gathered from two national telephone surveys, show that health officials have more work to do get more of the population vaccinated. Areas of particular concern included pregnant women, of whom 38% received inoculations, and healthcare workers, of whom just 22% received a vaccination.

“Efforts should continue to urge obstetricians and other healthcare providers to provide influenza vaccine to pregnant women,” the report said. “The current high percentage of unvaccinated healthcare workers highlights the need to strengthen measures to improve their influenza vaccination coverage.”

Only 12% of chronically ill adults were vaccinated, the report said, as were 14% of adults who care for infants too young to receive inoculations.

-- Rong-Gong Lin II