While the government shutdown has cast doubt on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) ability to manage the upcoming flu season, officials can take some solace from last year's efforts. Flu vaccine uptake levels in adults, kids and health workers all trended upward last year.
Vaccination rates in children experienced a notable bump, with a survey suggesting the proportion of under-17s receiving the flu jab rose 5 percentage points to 56.6%. The increase was driven by a strong rise in uptake among 13- to 17-year-olds, although the overall trend is still for vaccination rates to decline with age. Infants aged 6 to 23 months were best protected last year, with 76.9% of this demographic receiving a flu shot.
The uptake in infants brings CDC close to its 2020 target of 80% flu vaccine coverage in the age group. In other areas, CDC still has a long way to go though, even after the progress made last year. "We have a lot of room for improvement all around, but we did do better," Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, told reporters at a press conference attended by CIDRAP.
Increased uptake in healthcare professionals is one goal, with CDC targeting a 90% vaccination rate by 2020. Last year, 72% of healthcare workers received the vaccine, but this figure masks considerable variation. Uptake in physicians has already passed the 90% target, but for nonclinical staff it languishes at 64.8%. Similar variations are seen geographically, with CDC noting a 20 percentage point difference between uptake in Florida and Rhode Island.
Bringing vaccination rates up to target levels would give manufacturers a boost, especially considering the higher prices of new quadrivalent vaccines from AstraZeneca's ($AZN) biotech unit, GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) and Sanofi ($SNY).