Flu shot unused as people avoid seasonal jab

This is National Influenza Vaccination Week, but it appears that millions of Americans won't be paying any attention. A new report from Rand--the nation's first mid-season report card on vaccination trends for seasonal influenza--shows that 30 percent of U.S. adults got the jab by mid-November. More than half taking the Rand survey said they would not be getting a shot. And only 17 percent said they still planned to get vaccinated.

William Schaffner, MD, president-elect of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, called the numbers "wimpy."

The survey also explored the uptake among chronic disease groups and those over 50, where the need for a flu shot is high. Yet only 33 percent of asthma patients and 63 percent of patients with chronic lung disease were vaccinated. Among caretaker and healthcare workers only 13 percent said they intended to get a shot.

"We've got a lot of work to do here," said L.J. Tan, PhD, director of infectious diseases for the American Medical Association.

Vaccination trends in the U.S. are extraordinarily important for manufacturers, which have been churning out a record amount of flu vaccine for the 2008-2009 flu season. If large numbers of doses go begging this year, it could affect production levels for next year.

- read the report from CIDRAP