According to a survey, which was carried out by the research organisation NORC, the majority of adults in the US haven’t been vaccinated against flu this year. This survey has been carried out every year since 2005. This year, it shows that, of the adults who were surveyed by the group, only 43% had chosen to be vaccinated this year. In addition to this, 14% of respondents say that they will never get the shot.
The overall number of deaths was reported as lower than in previous years. The number of people visiting their doctor for flu was around average, and the number of hospitalisations was 383 between October 1st and December 1st. And, as of December 1st, the CDC reported that no children had died from influenza related illnesses; although five died earlier in the season.
Last year’s flu season was one of the worst seen in decades. In the US alone, there were over 80,000 flu related deaths, and many more hospitalisations across the country. But, this report, which has been released early in the season, has suggested that this pattern might not be repeated this year.
The CDC have said that, so far, this season has been mild and 38 states have reported very little flu activity as of the beginning of December. Another ten states have reported low or moderate activity. Only two states experienced high activity. The CDC, however, noted that it’s difficult to establish the total number of cases as many go unreported.
Also, experts have warned that we shouldn’t try and link the severity of each flu season with the number of people being vaccinated. For example, Richard Webby, a flu scientist at the WHO, said that vaccination rates were similar in previous years when there was more flu activity. He commented: “We’ve got to keep in mind that it’s still very, very early, and even at this time last year, there hadn’t been a huge amount of activity either.”
In light of these findings, the number of patients getting a flu shot could go down in the upcoming years. However, according to the current guidelines from the CDC, everyone over six months of age should be vaccinated.
They say that this is the best way to protect yourself from the risks of flu. In particular, higher risk groups, such as children under five, adults over sixty five, and individuals with an underlying health condition, should get the flu shot to protect themselves from the side effects associated with winter influenza.