Influenza Vaccine Coverage Remains Below Healthy People 2020 Targets

OCTOBER 26, 2017
Colleen Owens
At the recent meeting of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), experts offered details on US influenza surveillance and vaccine coverage.  

The current influenza season is getting off to a typically slow start. Recent epidemiological data show outpatient visits for influenza-like illnesses were at 1.3%, which is well below the 2.2% baseline, according to Lynnette Brammer, MPH, of the CDC. “If you look at this compared to other recent years, we’re right where we typically are for this time of year,” she said.

The H3N2 viruses are the most common circulating strains; however, influenza H1N1 and B viruses have been detected, according to Brammer.

Despite the overall low influenza activity, some states are starting to see some action. Five states have reported local activity, “which means they are already seeing outbreaks or are seeing increases of ILI (influenza-like illness) with laboratory evidence of influenza in one region of their state,” Brammer said.

Vaccine Coverage
Influenza vaccination coverage for children remained relatively unchanged during the 2016-2017 season, according to data from the National Immunization Survey-Flu, an ongoing telephone survey of households with children.

“Overall, there was no change from last season, and this was despite the recommendation to not use LAIV (live attenuated influenza vaccine),” said Carla Black, PhD, a CDC epidemiologist. The coverage decrease of 1.9% seen in children 5-12 years was balanced by a 2% increase among children 13-17 years.

“The fact that vaccination rates have not decreased in children, except for a very small amount in 5-12 year olds, is a real tribute to the immunization delivery system, given that LAIV no longer exists,” said Peter Szilagyi, MD, professor of pediatrics, University of California, Los Angeles, and current ACIP committee member. “Many people thought that the rates would really drop.”

In adults, vaccination coverage increased by 1.6% during the 2016-2017 season. However, “for all age groups, except for children ages 6-23 months, coverage remains well below the Healthy People 2020 target of 70%,” Black said.

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