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Record Number of Americans Got Flu Shots, CDC Says
Date:4/29/2010

school-based vaccination clinics were particularly effective in increasing vaccination rates among children. And, he added, "if the H1N1 vaccine had been available earlier more people would have been vaccinated."

Next year will mark the first year when a flu shot is recommended for all Americans, which should lead to even higher vaccination rates, Euler said.

Infectious disease expert Dr. Marc Siegel, an associate professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center, said the 2009-2010 flu season "ended up being a milder flu season than usual, by a long shot, because the H1N1 pandemic flu crowded out the seasonal flu."

Siegel also pointed to the higher rates of vaccination among children, who, he said, are "super spreaders" of flu. "We ought to be vaccinating every child," he added.

Siegel said that vaccinating children also protects older adults by limiting potential transmission of the disease. Older people, particularly seniors, are at heightened risk of complications and death from seasonal flu.

Another report in the same issue of the MMWR said that a new flu vaccine containing four times the amount of antigen has been licensed for use in people 65 and older.

Whether this stronger vaccine will improve the immune response of older people isn't known, the CDC said. The agency's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices is waiting for data on the vaccine's effectiveness before recommending its use.

Siegel said this vaccine could be very useful for some older patients.

"Basically, the elderly end up with less immunity," he said. "The older you get and the more infirmed you get and the more chronic illnesses you have, the less your overall immunity to flu is."

Good candidates for the new vaccine would include people with chronic conditions, such as diabetes and respiratory disorders, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), as well as people in hospital
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