Just over one-third of Americans ages 18-65 got a flu shot in the 2012-2013 flu period, renders a report released yesterday by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). H1N1, the same highly infectious type-A influenza strain that caused the 2009 pandemic is the most prevalent this season, and is now widespread in 35 states. Experts wish to debunk the stigma that results in Americans choosing to opt out of vaccinating themselves and their children.
“The trend of low vaccination rates amongst younger adults is particularly troubling this year,” said Jeffrey Levi of Trust for America’s Health, a nonprofit health activism group.
The investigation done by the group concluded that while 45 percent of all Americans got a flu shot during the 2012-2013, a figure that increased from 41.8 percent in the 2011-2012 season, only 35.7 percent of adults were a part of this group.
The highest vaccination rates last season were in Massachusetts at 57.5 percent, while the lowest were in Florida at 34.1 percent. Just 12 states had flu shot vaccination quotients of 50 percent or greater. The CDC urges that all Americans ages six months and above get inoculated each year.
The effort to create a universal flu vaccine and to debunk the social dissension surrounding its potential side effects is a popular topic today in the infectious disease community and with the CDC. Researchers and public health officers say that more people getting the flu shot yearly could lead to advancements that would bring this scientific milestone closer to reality.
The European Scientific Working Group on Influenza, which is a group of healthcare officials in influenza experts aiming to reduce the disease in Europe held their annual conference yesterday in Malta, Latvia, where the panel outlined six common misconceptions about the disease.
The first misconception about the disease, according to the ESWI is that people underestimate the seriousness of the flu due to the fact that the severity of cases in different strains is widely varying. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control estimates that 36,000 people die from influenza and influenza-related causes each year. Certain strains, such as the H5N1 Avian flu, have a mortality rate of 60 percent in humans.
Roman Prymula, of the University Hospital Hradec Kralove in the Czech Republic, said on Tuesday that only about a quarter of influenza related deaths are reported and that misdiagnosis is common.
There are others who think that they are not in the high-risk category, or that the shot will give them the flu. Others stated that they had previously been inoculated, yet caught the disease anyway, not taking into account that influenza is a diverse and constantly mutating virus. Previous studies done in the U.S military show that the vaccine has a 70 to 90 percent protective rate. This number in the general population is closer to 70 percent. The CDC and health care officials continue to warn that the ever-pervasive Swine flu is highly contagious.
Another concern was the use of adjuvants, which are substances that increase the body’s immune response to the flu shot, thereby resulting of less of the inactivated virus contained in vaccine. Although there is much controversy surrounding the use of the alum adjuvants in American flu vaccines, experts and the CDC say that the risks outweigh the dogmatic benefits of immunogenicity and wish to debunk myths surrounding their so-called harmful effects.
By Apryl Legeas