Flu vaccination rates are up so far this season, CDC says

Early-season flu vaccine coverage has improved versus last year, according to the CDC. (Pixabay)

On the heels of a punishing flu season in the U.S. last year, vaccination rates for this flu season have climbed noticeably through mid-November, the CDC reports.  

For children aged 6 months to 17 years of age, the estimated national vaccination rate was 45.6%, a 6.8 percentage point jump over the same period last year, according to a CDC-sponsored survey. Coverage for adults was 44.9%, an increase of 6.4 percentage points. 

As the center points out, the figures are estimates and end-of-season totals may differ. Additionally, the data don’t detail exactly why rates are up. Still, the fact that rates have jumped over last year is a positive as healthcare officials prepare for an increase in flu activity. Manufacturers have also shipped more vaccine for the season.

The results come after a severe flu season in 2017 and 2018 that sickened nearly 49 million people and sent 22.7 million to a health care provider, according to the CDC. The agency estimates there were 959,000 hospitalizations due to flu last year and nearly 80,000 deaths. In total, 185 children died due to a flu infection last season.

RELATED: Note to flu-shot makers: EHR reminders for doctors could boost vaccination rates 

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According to the agency, that burden was “higher than any season since the 2009 pandemic and serves as a reminder of how severe seasonal influenza can be.” Now, the CDC says healthcare providers should continue encouraging vaccination to keep improving the national rate. As people continued getting vaccines throughout last flu season, end-of-season totals climbed considerably above early season estimates, the agency reported. 

Not only are more people getting vaccinations so far in the U.S. this season. Flu vaccine manufacturers have shipped nearly 164 million doses as of the end of November, according to the CDC. The figure compares with 155 million doses in total last flu season. 

RELATED: Sanofi ships first of 70M doses of flu shots for the 2018-19 season

Meanwhile, flu activity was low nationally through November, according to the agency. It's expected to peak between December and February.  

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