CDC: 90% of kids who died last flu season didn’t get the vaccine

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The flu took the lives of more than 100 children in the U.S. last flu season, and most of those kids didn’t get a flu shot.

That’s according to a new report by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, aimed to encourage Americans to get vaccinated now. The flu kills up to approximately 36,000 people each year, but less than half of the population gets an annual flu shot. That’s something the CDC wants to change.

“Flu hit young and middle-aged adults hard last year and just over 100 children died,” Dr. William Schaffner of Vanderbilt University told NBC News. “There is simply no reason to take the risk.”

Ninety percent of the children who died did not receive flu shot, according to the CDC’s Director Dr. Tom Frieden. He and other health officials gathered this week at a briefing sponsored by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases to discuss plans for the 2014-15 flu season.

The CDC recommends everyone 6 months and older get the flu shot. So far this year, just a third of young and middle-aged adults have taken the plunge.

Whatever the reason — fear of needles, worry that the vaccine can actually give you the flu or indifference — far too many people are failing to get the flu shot, and that translates to an uncomfortably large group of children who are at risk to contract the virus.

This year, the CDC will have 150 million doses of the vaccine available to the public. New laws require that insurance cover 100 percent of the cost, negating the out-of-pocket expense. And those with needle phobia can instead opt for a nasal spray or a new “needle-free” method that uses a jet to force the vaccine through the skin.

“Influenza vaccines are safe, plentiful and we have more vaccine options than ever before — at least one is right for everyone,” Schaffner said at the briefing. “People should not wait to get vaccinated if their first choice is not available.”



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