NEW YORK (CNN) – Most US adults have not received an influenza vaccination this season, according to a new survey by NORC, a research organization at the University of Chicago.
In mid-November, only 43% of 18-year-olds surveyed reported being vaccinated against influenza, according to NORC, who conducted the National Immunization Survey for the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from 2005. Another 14% who remain unvaccinated say that he will get the shot, indicates the survey.
Even if they do what they want, that leaves far more than a third of adults (41%) who do not – and do not want – an influenza vaccine, according to NORC. (The remaining 2% did not answer or replied, "I do not know.")
The relationship comes early in what has been a mild season. Thirty-eight states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico experienced minimal flu activity for the week that ended on December 1, while New York City and 10 states reported low or moderate activity, according to the weekly report on influenza. of the CDC. Only two states, Georgia and Louisiana, recorded a high activity during the week.
The mild season is a dramatic shift from the previous flu season, which has been the most deadly of the last few decades, with over 80,000 deaths related to influenza in the United States.
"We can not say that 43 percent of the vaccinated people are the reason for the flu season so far," said Richard Webby, influenza scientist and consultant of the World Health Organization on vaccine composition recommendations influenza. Webby, who was not involved in the NORC survey, said vaccination rates are similar to those in the years when influenza activity has spread and the disease is severe for many people.
"We have to keep in mind that it's still very, very early, and even in this time of last year, there was not even a great deal of activity," said Webby, a member of St. Jude Children & # 39; s Research Hospital. Department of Infectious Diseases.
No child died of influenza during the week ended December 1, although five children died at the start of this season, the CDC reported. Among adults, influenza deaths are estimated on the basis of pneumonia and other influenza-related illnesses. The percentage of deaths attributed to pneumonia and influenza was below the usual threshold for this period of the year, the CDC said.
Among those who visited a doctor's office, only 2.2 percent said that the reason for their visit was a similar illness to the flu; this is considered a normal rate for this period of the year, according to the CDC.
The report also showed a total of 383 hospitalizations reported since October 1, with just over 1 influenza-related hospitalization for every 100,000 people during the week ending December 1. The highest hospitalization rates were among adults aged 65 and children under the age of 4; both age groups saw little more than 3 hospitalizations linked to influenza for 100,000 people.
Webby said that a "slightly reassuring" signal this year is that the H1N1 strain is the dominant strain of circulating flu.
"This is the strain that is a little better matched to our vaccine," he said. "It tends to not have the same impact as the H3N2 season, and that's what we had last year." The strains of influenza B, which have the same symptoms as A-strain viruses, are also circulating as usual this season, CDC said.
There were 1,105 new cases confirmed in the laboratory during the week ended December 1, bringing the season total to 6,170, calculated by the CDC. These numbers do not include all people infected by influenza, because many people do not seek medical help when they are sick and therefore are not happy.
The most important response to seasonal influenza, according to the CDC, is vaccination for all 6 months or more. As long as the influence is circulating in the area where you live, it is not too late to be vaccinated.
Looking at the new NORC report, Webby worries about "the people's neighborhood [age] Over 60 years that are not vaccinated. "According to the CDC, adults over 65, children under 2 and people with medical conditions should not be vaccinated, they should get pneumococcal vaccination to prevent pneumonia, be severe or even fatal in these groups compared to adults healthy.
About half of people in the 18- to 44-year-olds have not received a flu vaccination, noted Webby, who believes that "it's probably an uphill battle" that seeks to increase these vaccination rates. After all, influenza infections usually do not cause serious illness in this age group.
"We are struggling a little bit for the perception that influenza is not really a deadly disease, which we obviously know it is," he said. "Perhaps healthy adults run a rather small risk of contracting a very serious infection, but if they get infected, they are potentially still infecting others and how many people in this age group have young children or elderly parents?"
Young children and the elderly are more at risk of contracting serious diseases, Webby said: "So, by vaccinating, you are not only protecting yourself, but also, through the immunity of the herd, you are protecting others".
The overall effectiveness of last year's influenza vaccine was estimated at 40%, which means that vaccination has reduced an individual's risk of seeking medical care by 40%, according to the CDC. Among the children, the rates of effectiveness were higher: the children who got the shot were 59% to seek medical assistance for the virus, the CDC reported this year.
Although the vaccine is imperfect, it reduces the severity and duration of symptoms, and those who have flu after receiving a vaccine are less likely to require hospitalization and less likely to die.
Webby added that the vaccine is also safe. Although some people report an irritated arm after receiving the stroke, the vast majority have no extreme side effects.
"The vaccine has been given to many people every year with an excellent safety record," he said.