WEDNESDAY, Sept. 21 (HealthDay News) -- With plenty of influenza vaccine available, U.S. health officials urged Americans Wednesday to get a flu shot.
Last year, some 130.9 million Americans -- about 43 percent of the population -- got a shot, which represents an increase over past years. The greatest increase was among children 6 months to 17 years old. But, more adults are getting vaccinated, too, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"Eight million more Americans got the flu shot last year than the year before, and that's the most people who have ever been vaccinated against flu in this country," CDC Director Dr. Thomas R. Frieden said during a Wednesday morning press conference.
About 51 percent of American children were vaccinated last year -- a 7 percent increase from the year before and 22 percent increase from the year before that, Frieden said. However, the number of young adults with conditions such as asthma who get flu shots is still too low, he said.
One reason for the increase in vaccinations appears to be a response to the emergence of the H1N1 flu two years ago, Frieden said. But it's important to get vaccinated this year, he added.
"There are too many illnesses and deaths from influenza each year," Frieden said. "Everyone over 6 months should get a flu shot this year and every year."
Right now, more than 85 million doses of flu vaccine are available in doctors' offices, public health clinics, pharmacies and retail stores, among other sites. More doses will be available than ever before. And you don't have to go to your doctor to get a shot because pharmacists in all 50 states can administer them.
Also, there are four ways to get vaccinated: a nasal spray; the traditional injection vaccine; a high-dose injection for people 65 and older; and a new vaccine injected in the forearm using a smaller needle.<
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