NEW YORK (CNN) – Most American adults have not received flu in this season, according to a new study by…
NEW YORK (CNN) – Most American adults have not received flu in this season, according to a new study by NORC, a research organization at the University of Chicago.
In mid-November, only 43 percent of subjects 18 or older reported that they had been vaccinated against the NORC influenza that has conducted the National Immunization Survey for the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention since 2005. Another 14 percent still unvaccinated claim that they will get shot, the survey shows.
Although they are doing what they think it leaves much more than one third of the adults (41 percent) who do not have – and will not – have an influenza virus, according to NORC. (The remaining 2 percent did not answer or responded: “I do not know.”)
The report comes early in what has been a mild season. Thirty-eight states, District of Columbia and Puerto Rico experienced minimal influenza activity during the week ending December 1
, while New York City and 10 states experienced low or moderate activity, according to Friday’s Revenue Flow Report from CDC. Only two states, Georgia and Louisiana, experienced high activity during the week.
The mild season is a dramatic shift from the previous influenza season, which was the deadliest decade, with more than 80,000 influenza-related deaths in the United States
“We can not argue that 43 percent of the vaccinated persons are the cause of the mild flu season so far, “said Richard Webby, an influenza scientist and adviser to the World Health Organization on recommendations for the composition of influenza vaccines. Webby, who was not involved in the NORC survey, says vaccination rates are similar to those years when influenza activity has been widespread and disease is difficult for many.
“We must remember that it is still very early, and even at this time last year, there had been no great activity either,” said Webby, a member of St. Petersburg. Jude Children‘s Research Hospital’s Department of Infectious Diseases.
No children died as a result of the flu during the week ended December 1, but five children died earlier this season, CDC reported. Among adults, influenza deaths are estimated based on pneumonia and other diseases related to influenza. The proportion of deaths related to pneumonia and influenza was below the normal threshold for this time of year, says CDC.
Among those visiting a doctor’s office, only 2.2 percent reported that the cause of their visit was flu-like disease; This is considered a normal rate for this time of year according to the CDC.
The report also showed a total of 383 hospitalizations reported since October 1, with over 1 influenza hospitalization per 100,000 people during the week ending December 1. The highest hospital stay was among adults 65 years or older and children younger than 4 years. Both age groups saw slightly more than 3 influenza hospitals per 100,000 people.
Webby said a “little calming signal” this year is that the H1N1 strain is the dominant influenza loss.
“That’s the stress it’s a bit better match our vaccine,” he said. “It does not usually have the same impact as the H3N2 season does, and that was what we had last year.” Influenza B strain virus, which has the same symptoms as A strain virus, also circulates this season as usual, says CDC.
There were 1 105 new laboratory confirmed cases during the week ending December 1, giving the season’s total to 6,170, calculated CDC. These numbers do not include all people infected with the flu, as many people do not seek medical help when they are sick and so missing.
The most important response to the seasonal flu of CDC is for all 6 months or older to be vaccinated. As long as the flu circulates in the area where you live, it is not too late to be vaccinated.
In view of the new NORC report, Webby worries about “quarter people [age] 60 plus not being vaccinated.” Adults over 65 years, children under 2 years and people with medical conditions should not only get an influenza virus, they will receive a pneumococcal vaccination to prevent pneumonia, according to CDC. Influence is more likely to be severe or even fatal in these groups than in healthy adults.
About half of the population in the 18-44 age group has not had any influenza impact, Webby noted that “it is probably an uphill” that tries to increase these vaccination rates. Influenza infections usually do not cause serious illness in this age group.
“We are struggling a little with the perception that flu is not a fatal disease, as we understand it is,” he said. “Maybe the healthy adults have a fairly small risk of having a very serious influenza infection, but if they get infected, they can still infect others. And how many people in the age group have young children or older parents?”
Young children and older people are at greater risk of serious illness, Webby says: “By vaccination, you protect not only yourself but also protect your flock from protecting the flock.”
The overall effect of last year’s flu shot was estimated at 40 percent, which means that vaccination reduced the individual’s risk of seeking medical care by 40 percent, according to CDC. Among children, the efficiency rate was higher: Children who received the shot were 59 percent seeking medical treatment for the virus, CDC reported this year.
Although the vaccine is incomplete, the severity and duration of symptoms diminish, and those who receive flu after receiving a vaccine are less likely to require hospitalization and are less likely to die.
Webby added that the vaccine is also safe. Although some people report a sore arm after taking the shot, the overwhelming majority do not experience extreme side effects.
“The vaccine has been given to many people every year with a very good security record,” he said.