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Notice to Readers: National Influenza Vaccination Week --- November 26--December 2, 2007

To help raise awareness regarding the importance of obtaining influenza vaccination throughout the entire influenza season, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Influenza Vaccine Summit, CDC, and other partners are conducting activities during the second annual National Influenza Vaccination Week (NIVW), November 26--December 2.

Influenza vaccination coverage in all groups recommended for vaccination remains suboptimal. Despite the timing of the peak of influenza disease, administration of vaccine decreases substantially after November. According to results from the National Health Interview Survey regarding the two most recent influenza seasons, approximately 84% of all influenza vaccinations were administered during September--November* (Figure). Among persons aged >65 years, the percentage of September--November vaccinations was even higher, at 92% (CDC, unpublished data, 2007). Because many persons recommended for vaccination remain unvaccinated at the end of November, CDC is encouraging public-health partners and health-care providers to conduct vaccination clinics and other activities that promote influenza vaccination during NIVW and throughout the remainder of the influenza season.

Each year, on average, approximately 15--60 million persons in the United States are infected with influenza virus; an estimated 200,000 persons are hospitalized from influenza complications, and an estimated 36,000 persons die from those complications (1). Influenza vaccination is the best way to prevent influenza and potentially severe complications. CDC recommends that anyone who wants to reduce their risk for influenza infection should be vaccinated every influenza season. Annual vaccination is particularly important for the following groups (1).

  • persons at high risk for influenza-related complications and severe disease, including:
    --- children aged 6--59 months,
    --- pregnant women,
    --- persons aged >50 years,
    --- persons of any age with certain chronic medical conditions; and
  • persons who live with or care for persons at high risk, including:
    --- household contacts and caregivers of persons in the above groups,
    --- household contacts and caregivers of children aged <6 months (these children also are at high risk for influenza-related complications but are too young to receive influenza vaccination), and
    --- health-care workers.

The time to receive influenza vaccination starts when vaccine becomes available in the local community and continues into January or later, when the influenza season typically peaks. Throughout NIVW, CDC will be highlighting the importance of influenza vaccination for persons at high risk, their close contacts, and all those who want to be protected from influenza. CDC, Families Fighting Flu, and other partners also have designated Tuesday, November 27, as Children's Flu Vaccination Day to put a special focus on the importance of vaccinating children at high risk and their close contacts.

NIVW posters and other influenza educational materials are available to download for local printing and distribution at http://www.cdc.gov/flu/professionals/flugallery. Other influenza-related tools and information for health-care professionals and patients are available at http://www.cdc.gov/flu.

Reference

  1. CDC. Prevention and control of influenza: recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). MMWR 2007;56(No. RR-6).

* Respondents were asked two series of questions: "During the past 12 months, have you had a flu shot?" "A flu shot is usually given in the fall and protects against influenza for the flu season." "During what month and year did you receive your most recent flu shot?" and "During the past 12 months, have you had a flu vaccine sprayed in your nose by a doctor or other health professional?" "A health professional may have let you spray it." "This vaccine is usually given in the fall and protects against influenza for the flu season." "During what month and year did you receive your most recent flu nasal spray?" Additional information is available at http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nhis.htm.

Figure

Figure 1
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