The publicity surrounding the pandemic H1N1 influenza virus apparently had a good side effect, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Thursday. Seasonal flu vaccinations reached 40% of the eligible population this past winter, up from 33% the previous winter, the agency reported in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. The biggest increase was observed among children age 17 and younger, with 40% of that group being vaccinated, compared with 24% in the previous season.
Altogether, 114 million to 115 million doses of seasonal flu vaccine were distributed. Considering wastage and the need to give two shots to children younger than 10, the agency estimates that more than 100 million Americans were vaccinated this past winter.
The group least likely to be vaccinated was healthy adults ages 18 to 49: Only 28% were vaccinated, compared with 22% last year.
Among children, Nevada had the lowest percentage vaccinated, 23.6%, while Hawaii was the highest at 67.2%. Among adults, Nevada was again the lowest with 32.4% vaccinated, while Minnesota was highest with 52.5%.
California ranked a little below the national averages:
-- Everyone older than 6 months: California 36.4%, nationally 39.7%
-- Children ages 6 months to 17 years: California 33.7%, nationally 40.0%
-- Adults ages 18 to 49 with underlying chronic conditions: California 26.7%, nationally 36.2%
-- Healthy adults ages 18 to 49: California 25.2%, nationally 27.6%
-- Adults ages 50 to 64: California 52.6%, nationally 45%
-- Adults 65 and older: California, 63.3%, nationally 68.0%
Among all the groups eligible for vaccination, whites were highest with 42.5% vaccinated, Latinos were second with 33.6% and blacks were lowest with 32.2%. The same rankings occurred among children.
The results were obtained from two separate telephone surveys conducted between October 2009 and February of this year. Most respondents seemed to know the difference between the seasonal flu vaccine and the swine flu vaccine, they said.
-- Thomas H. Maugh II