The CDC presented some encouraging news in a press release held by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases; the number of people who got flu shots in 2012 was generally higher than the previous year. 57% of children 6 months of age and older received the vaccine last year (up 5 %), while 41.5% (up 3%)of adults 18 and older were immunized.
72% of health care workers were immunized and 90% of doctors received the vaccine.
Only half of women who were pregnant were immunized last year. In an effort to motivate pregnant women to become immunized, the CDC reminded them that babies who are born to mothers during flu season will not have any protection except from their immunized mothers, as children under six months of age are not eligible for the vaccine themselves.
The demographic with the greatest percentage of immunizations were senior citizens – 66% were immunized. However, the efficacy of the flu vaccine decreases with age; on average the flu vaccine is effective 56% of the time, but among the elderly it hits the mark only 50% of the time. However, any if a person contracts the flu after being vaccinated, the illness typically isn’t as severe, and it can, in fact, prevent lower respiratory involvement, which reduces risk of hospitalization.
Diabetics are also at a greater risk for flu complications and are 3 times more likely to die after contracting the flu because of their already weakened immune systems; during the annual flu epidemic deaths among diabetics increase from 5-15%.
For those who get the flu, the CDC is urging them to stay home until they have been fever free 24 hours WITHOUT taking fever reducing medication such as aspirin or ibuprofen, or Tylenol products.
Flu vaccines are now available, and the CDC is reminding the public that it’s not too early to get immunized; last year the flu presented four weeks before expected.