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Most Asthmatics Aren't Getting Flu Shot

Nearly two-thirds of this high-risk population went without the vaccine, U.S. study shows

FRIDAY, June 20 (HealthDay News) -- Only 36.2 percent of Americans with asthma received a flu shot during the 2005-06 flu season, even though people with asthma are at higher risk for complications from the flu, a federal government study finds.

That level of inoculation is well below the government's Healthy People 2010 target of 60 percent vaccination coverage for people ages 18 to 64 with high-risk conditions.

The analysis of 2006 National Health Interview Survey data found that those with health insurance, a usual place for health care, and a higher family income achieved the highest rates of vaccination. But even among those with the greatest number of health care visits, the rate of vaccination was only 50 percent.

The low rate of flu vaccination among people with asthma may be due to inadequate access to health care and missed opportunities at doctors' visits, the study authors said. Along with making improvement in these areas, they recommended a number of other ways to improve vaccination coverage in this at-risk group, including educating health care providers; encouraging patients to establish a usual place for health care; and continuing to vaccinate throughout the flu season.

The study was published in the June 20 issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Since 1964, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices has recommended influenza vaccinations for all people with asthma.

More information

The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more about asthma.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, news release, June 19, 2008

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