New information from the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases says that this year about 66% of all adult Americans intend to have a flu jab to protect themselves from any seasonal viruses. The survey also identifies that 70% of parents are planning to have their children vaccinated too.
This matches the trend seen in recent years where the take up rates for immunization have steadily grown year on year. William Schaffner, MD, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University said, "The last several years we're seeing an upward trend in influenza vaccination rates". Schaffner who is also president of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases also said, "Influenza vaccine remains the best prevention for the seasonal viral disease".
In last year’s flu season the CDC made the recommendation that everyone over 6 months should be immunized. In response to that recommendation 130.9 million Americans were vaccinated, that’s 43% of the American population. Schaffner explains the aim by saying that, “Our goal is to make annual vaccination a no-brainer for Americans across all age groups”.
Because demand is growing the vaccine manufacturers and other health care professionals are geared up to ensure that the demand can be satisfied. To ensure that all the people who wish to be vaccinated can be, there are pharmacists in every state in the U.S. who are permitted to administer the vaccine.
CDC Director Thomas Frieden, MD, MPH, has said that already about half the doses for this season, about 85 million, have been delivered to doctors, clinics, pharmacies and retail stores. The remaining doses will be available before the flu season begins.
Almost one person in five was vaccinated in a retail outlet of some sort, pharmacy or grocery store etc, last year states the CDC. This year it seems that people can just walk in and get a shot without waiting.
The National Foundation for Infectious Diseases has now said that some people who have egg allergies can also be vaccinated against flu. Previously the advice was that if someone had any sort of allergy to eggs then they should not be immunized. Now the advice is that if their only reaction is hives then vaccination is possible. However they do add the proviso that the person should go to a health professional for the jab and discuss their condition first.
Because of medical and technological advances there are now four different ways to administer the flu vaccine. The conventional flu shot into the muscle, a nasal spray, a high dose injection which is specially suited to those who are over 65 and a new method. The new method of vaccination is an injection which has a smaller needle which injects the vaccine just under the skin.
The flu season is normally at it’s highest around January and February so any time before then is a good time to be vaccinated. And to make a point, CDC Director Frieden rolled up his sleeve at a news conference and was vaccinated. He then said, "It looks like we're going to have a vaccine that's very well-matched to the circulating strains".
He was talking about the fact that this year’s strains are the same as last year. This has only happened 8 times in 42 years according to the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases. One of the strains is the H1N1 strain, commonly known as swine flu. It was also highlighted that adults vaccinated last year still need to be revaccinated this year even though it is the same vaccine. This is because the vaccine loses strength after about six months and if left long enough then no protection is given. Hence the need for the booster.
Schaffner is confident that most adults will get the vaccination again, because an earlier survey investigating people’s views indicated that most were aware of the importance of the vaccination this year.
Any children who have not been immunized for flu before will require two doses about four weeks apart for full protection this year. However children who have previously been vaccinated last year will only need one dose to provide maximum protection.
Flu was the cause of death for more than 114 children and teenagers under eighteen last year in the U.S. according to said American Academy of Pediatrics President Marion Burton, MD. She is also a director of community pediatrics at the University of South Carolina. She went on to say that of the under eighteen year olds who died, only half of them had underlying medical problems which increased their risk of death.
In their annual survey of parents, the Infectious Disease Foundation say that the findings indicate that about 70% of parents will be getting their children vaccinated against the flu. The amount of parents with children under ten was higher than the 70% but as children got older the perception of need in those parents appeared to drop off. Additionally more than 10% of parents did not know if they would immunize their children this year.
At the news conference Richard Beigi, MD, MSc, who was representing the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, stressed the consequences of not having flu vaccinations for pregnant women. He highlighted that in the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, about 70 women died from the flu and 347 pregnant women became severely ill.
He then tells of the benefit of the pregnant women being vaccinated. He says, “Flu vaccine during pregnancy is safe for both mothers and babies”. He then points out that the mother's immunization shields her newborn until he or she can be vaccinated. Beigi is an assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh.