As of early November, only about 2 out of 5 people in the United States reported having gotten this season’s flu vaccine, yet flu vaccine offered substantial benefit last season by preventing an estimated 5 million flu illnesses and 71,000 flu hospitalizations, according to data from the CDC.

“We are glad to see that people are making the decision to protect themselves and their families from flu, but coverage is still low and we urge people to get vaccinated if they haven’t yet,” said Nancy Messonnier, MD, director of CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. “We have a tool that is proven to prevent flu illness and hospitalization but millions of people are not taking advantage of it. Too many people are unprotected.”

Flu vaccine coverage estimates based on survey data collected through early November 2016 show vaccination levels similar to this time last season. Forty percent of people overall reported having received a flu vaccine, including 37% of children ages 6 months to 17 years and 41% of adults ages 18 years and older.

Although flu vaccination estimates among adults and children are similar to early estimates from last season for all age groups, CDC is looking carefully at vaccination rates for children and for adults ages 50 years and older.

Concern about vaccination among older adults is prompted by detection of a three percentage point decrease in vaccine coverage among people 50 years and older in final vaccine coverage estimates for 2015-16 compared to 2014-15.

CDC also surveyed pregnant women and health care workers regarding flu vaccination:

  • While early estimates show vaccination among pregnant women (47%) is six percentage points higher than early estimates last season, more than half of pregnant women remain unvaccinated.
  • Vaccination among health care providers (69%) is about the same as it was at this time last season.
  • Last season, coverage among healthcare personnel working in long-term care facilities increased five percentage points (to 69%), but was still the lowest among all health care provider groups. The early coverage estimate for those providers this season (55%) is still the lowest among all healthcare providers.