Government Says Too Few Get Flu Shots

By: The Associated Press
By: The Associated Press

Government health officials say only a fraction of the people who need flu shots the most are getting them. Their figures show just one in five babies and toddlers are getting flu vaccines.

The warning comes from officials who say they are worried a string of mild flu seasons and confusion over vaccines in recent years are deterring people from a simple lifesaver.

Manufacturers expect to ship more than 130 million doses of flu vaccine in coming months. And, officials say it's not too late to get vaccinated later, in the winter.

The flu kills about 36,000 Americans a year, and lands about 200,000 in the hospital.

Vaccines are recommended especially for anyone over 50 or under 5, and people with asthma, heart disease and other chronic illnesses; pregnant women; and anyone who comes in close contact with high-risk patients.

Guidelines for young children:
-- need two doses a month apart the first year they're inoculated
-- only 21 percent of those from ages 6 months to 2 years fully vaccinated
-- only about one in 10 who needed two doses got both
(if young child missed second dose last year, recommended that it's made up this year with two shots)
Who gets it:
-- 69 percent of people older than 64
-- one-third of 50- to 64-year-olds
-- 30 percent of younger adults at higher risk from underlying illnesses
CDC vaccination goal by 2010:
-- 90 percent of senior citizens
-- 60 percent of younger adults at high risk from flu

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