Healthy Choices

CDC: Many skip the flu vaccine, risking serious illness

Since the 2010-2011 flu season, health officials have recommended that everyone – from six months of age and up – get annual vaccinations.

And yet, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 57 percent of youths aged six months to 17 years old got a flu vaccine during the 2011-2012 season, the most recent year for which information was available. Adults 18 years and older got vaccinated at a rate of just 38 percent.

This unnecessary risk costs an estimated annual burden of potentially thousands of deaths nationwide and something like 15 million to 60 million cases of the flu, CDC Medical Officer Angela J.P. Campbell told a group of reporters with the Association of Health Care Journalism last week.

Direct medical costs are pegged at $10.4 billion. Next year, however, at least the costs should be lower. The Affordable Care Act requires that flu shots be administered free to consumers starting in January.

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