Flu vaccination coverage continues to rise


There’s hope for this year’s influenza season, particularly among children. Vaccination coverage appears to be rising.


There’s hope for this year’s influenza season, particularly among children. Vaccination coverage appears to be rising.

Nationwide coverage among children aged 6 months to 17 years was 56.6% last year, which is up 5.1 percentage points from the 2011-2012 flu season and up 12.9 percentage points from the 2009-2010 flu season, according to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In fact, coverage among children is increasing faster than it is among adults. Only about 42% of the nation’s population aged 18 years and older received flu vaccinations, which is up 2.7 percentage points from the 2011-2012 season and up 1.1 percentage point over the 2009-2010 season.

Unfortunately, coverage still varies tremendously by state. For 2012-2013, Massachusetts led the pack with vaccine coverage of 57.5%, while Florida trailed with the lowest coverage at 34.1%. The rate for the nation was 45%.

The CDC report coincides with the American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP) update on influenza for the upcoming flu season. AAP emphasizes that all children aged 6 months and older should be vaccinated, particularly those at high risk for complications from the disease.

The AAP says that even those children with egg allergy can safely receive one of the inactivated influenza vaccines, which are available this season in both trivalent and quadrivalent formulations. In addition, 2 trivalent vaccines manufactured using technology that does not use eggs are now available for people aged 18 years and older.

This year, the trivalent vaccine contains: A/California/7/2009 (H1N1)-like virus (derived from influenza A [H1N1] pdm09 [pH1N1] virus); A/Texas/50/2012 (H3N2) virus; and B/Massachusetts/2/2012-like virus (B/Yamagata lineage).

The quadrivalent vaccine also will contain influenza B of Victoria lineage. This is because experts have had a tough time predicting consistently which of the 2 B strains will predominate during a given season.

The AAP also emphasizes the continued importance of the antiviral treatments oral oseltamivir and inhaled zanamivir, explaining that the US Food and Drug Administration recently approved oseltamivir for children aged as young as 2 weeks. This means that treatment is available for both term and preterm infants, although chemoprophylaxis is only appropriate for term infants. 



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