During the 2018-2019 flu season, 49.2% of people ages six months and older got a flu vaccine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
That’s the highest level since the 2009-2010 flu season, but well below the 70% target that the Department of Health and Human Services set in 2010 for the entire population.
Historically, children have been more likely to be vaccinated than adults. During the 2018-2019 season, 62.6% of children between six months and 17 years got a flu shot. Among adults, 45.3% of people got vaccines.
The vaccination rate varied by race and ethnicity, with 51% of non-Hispanic white people getting the vaccine compared with 44.7% of the non-Hispanic Black population. Among Hispanic people, 46.4% got vaccinated.
States in the Northeast and the Great Plains tend to have higher vaccination rates. During the 2018-2019 season, 60.4% of Rhode Islanders received vaccines, the highest of any state. Nevada had the lowest vaccination rate at 37.8%.
According to the CDC, the flu vaccine prevented an estimated 4.4 million influenza illnesses during the 2018-19 season. Vaccinations also prevented an estimated 58,000 hospitalizations and 3,500 deaths. The agency also says in years where the vaccine is effectively matched against the season's flu, it reduces the risk of illness between 40% to 60%.
It is too early to say if the COVID-19 pandemic will affect flu vaccination rates. For the coming flu season, the CDC recommends all people older than six months without a conflicting health condition should get a vaccine “to protect yourself and the people around you from flu, and to help reduce the strain on healthcare systems responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.” The agency notes that while the flu shares some symptoms with COVID-19, they are different, and a flu vaccine won’t protect a person from coronavirus.
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