Fewer children and teens age 17 years and younger have been vaccinated against the flu this winter compared with the 2020-21 winter season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday.
Vaccination rates among young people eligible for the vaccine — those ages 6 months to 17 years — are down 5% from the 2020-21, agency data showed.
This means fewer than half, or 46%, of people in this age group nationally have been vaccinated against the seasonal virus, the CDC said.
Through the end of December, flu vaccination rates for all age groups were down 11% for this winter compared with last winter, when the CDC and others urged people in the United States to obtain the shot to prevent a spike in illnesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a typical flu season, more than 30,000 people across the country are sickened with the virus and 380,000 people are hospitalized as a result, according to the CDC.
However, the flu vaccine, which is formulated annually based on strains of the virus believed to be in circulation, protects against serious illness up to 60% of the time, agency data indicates.
A study led by CDC researchers and published Thursday by Clinical Infectious Diseases, found that the 2019-20 vaccine reduced the risk for severe flu in children by 78% against strains covered by the shot and by 47% against other, similar strains.