HHS prods providers to promote flu vaccinations
Government health officials say the nation’s influenza vaccination rate has largely plateaued over the past few seasons and too few healthcare workers receive the vaccine, increasing the risk of an outbreak.
The overall vaccination rate was 46.8% during the 2016-17 flu season, a 1.2 percentage point increase over the 2015-16 season rate. Since the 2013-14 flu season, the vaccination rate has hovered at 59% among children under age 17 and around 43% among adults, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported last week.
During an event Thursday kicking off the annual push for the flu shot, HHS Secretary Dr. Tom Price urged healthcare providers to do more to promote getting a vaccination among their patients, even during seasons when the vaccine may be less effective compared to previous years. Last season’s flu vaccine had an efficacy rate of about 42%, but was estimated to have prevented more than 5.4 million flu cases, 2.7 million doctor visits and 86,000 hospitalizations, Price said.
Influenza vaccination coverage among healthcare professionals has increased 15 percentage points since the 2010-11 flu season, to 78.6% in 201617. But there has been no significant increase over the past several years, with the coverage rate ranging from 75% to 79% since the 2013-14 flu season.
For more information on the flu and vaccinations, see Data Points, p. 31.