CDC 2021-2022 Flu Vaccination Campaign Kickoff

Thursday, October 7, 2021— Today, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID), along with other public health and medical groups, kicked-off the 2021-2022 flu vaccination season, emphasizing the added importance of vaccination this season during a virtual press conference. Keynote speaker CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky presented new estimates of flu vaccination coverage during the 2020-2021 flu season among the public, pregnant people and health care personnel.

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky receives her annual flu vaccine

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky receives her annual flu vaccine.

CDC flu vaccination coverage for the 2020-2021 season overall was similar to coverage estimates for the prior season in the general population, among pregnant women and overall across health care personnel. Influenza vaccination coverage among adults increased to 50.2% from 48.4% the prior season. This is good news given the ongoing pandemic, which has been so disruptive to medical care.

The overall increase in vaccination among adults was driven by increased vaccination uptake among adults 50-64 years and adults 65 years and older. The 5.4 percentage point increase in coverage among adults aged 65 years and older to 75.2% is particularly noteworthy as this is a historic high in vaccination coverage for this group of people, who typically bear the greatest burden in terms of serious flu illnesses resulting in hospitalization and death. However, there were some concerning findings in flu vaccination coverage estimates, including:

  • decreased coverage among children,
  • continued, and in some cases, worsening racial and ethnic disparities,
  • decreased coverage among health care personnel working as assistants/aides,
  • only about half of adults with underlying conditions got a flu vaccine last season, and
  • continued wide variation in state coverage for both children and adults.

While COVID-19 vaccines have been a central focus for both public health professionals and the public for several months now, experts at the virtual press conference urged the public to remember the ongoing importance of flu and pneumococcal vaccination. As COVID-19 vaccination coverage continues to increase and COVID-19 prevention measures are relaxed in some areas, Dr. Walensky noted that CDC is preparing for the return of flu this season. Dr. Walensky also reminded attendees that flu vaccines and COVID-19 vaccines can be given in the same visit. Both vaccines have been shown to reduce illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths.

CDC and its many partners work to improve flu vaccine uptake each year. To address worsening disparities in vaccination coverage, CDC will promote flu vaccination with focused outreach, including to groups of people for whom vaccination is especially important. Examples of such outreach include CDC’s Partnering for Vaccine Equity program that is working to increase confidence in and access to flu and COVID-19 vaccines through community-based outreach and education, and a special campaign conducted in collaboration with the AMA and the Ad Council to inform the general population, with a focus on Black/African American and Hispanic/Latino audiences, about the importance of flu vaccination.

Additionally, to reach other people who are at higher risk of serious flu complications, including people with certain chronic medical conditions, pregnant people and parents of young children, CDC has launched a digital campaign called “I Get It.” The campaign focuses on the many reasons to get an annual flu vaccine—whether it is to protect your overall health, your heart, or your lungs, or a family member who may be at higher risk from flu. CDC’s “I Get It” communication activation is available for everyone to participate in. (Upload your own flu vaccination photos in one of the customizable frames and share with your family, friends and followers.) CDC recommends everyone 6 months of age and older get a flu vaccine, ideally by the end of October.

CDC is tracking flu vaccination for the 2021-2022 flu season in children and adults, starting today. Over the course of the 2021-2022 flu season, CDC will share some preliminary, within-season, weekly flu vaccination data and coverage estimates using existing and new data sources through the Weekly National Flu Vaccination Dashboard. Early data show that by September 13, 8% of adults report already being vaccinated against flu and another 51% plan to get vaccinated against flu. The dashboard will be updated weekly or monthly, depending on the data source.