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CDC: 36% of Americans have gotten their flu shots; of those, 21% in a retail setting


ATLANTA — As many as 111 million Americans had gotten a flu shot by mid-November, representing 36% of the 305 million Americans over the age of 6 months, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated in a media telebriefing Monday afternoon. The number of people getting vaccinated is up slightly from last year, the CDC reported, most notably among children and seniors.

Additionally, more influenza vaccines are being administered in a retail setting. While 55% of people are still getting their vaccinations in a doctor's office or other medical setting, 21% of adults have been vaccinated in a retail setting and 16% in a workplace setting.

"We're seeing little flu around the country right now, but that doesn't mean it isn't around the corner," said Anne Schuchat, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases for CDC. As of Nov. 26, the geographic spread of influenza in one state was reported as local; the District of Columbia, Guam and 29 states reported sporadic activity; the U.S. Virgin Islands and 21 states reported no influenza activity; and Puerto Rico did not report.

Schuchat recommended people who are still planning to get a flu shot not wait until after the holidays, as 129 million flu vaccinations had already been distributed through mid-November. While there is ample supply now, she said, that may not be the case in a few weeks. Last year, of people who had gotten a flu shot, 58% did so before November; 23% were inoculated in November; and 19% had their flu shots administered between December and May.

"This is the second year of our universal influenza vaccination recommendation," Schuchat said, adding that the number of people who have gotten their flu shot to date is outpacing last year's rate by about 3.5 percentage points during the same time in 2010. Approximately 36% of adults have been vaccinated to date, versus 34% in 2010; 37% of children have been vaccinated to date, versus 31% in 2010. "I don't think years ago that parents realized influenza could be so serious in children," a factor that changed with the H1N1 pandemic in 2009, Schuchat said regarding the sharp increase in the number of children getting vaccinated. "That's good news for children."

Approximately 62% of all seniors over the age of 65 years have been vaccinated to date. And 42% of people with such chronic diseases as asthma, diabetes and heart disease have gotten vaccinated.

The CDC held the media telebriefing to help generate awareness around National Influenza Vaccination Week Dec. 4 to 10.

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