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86% of Americans Told to Get Flu Shot
The virus strains that circulated in the Southern Hemisphere's just-ended flu season are covered by this season's vaccine, said Daniel B. Jernigan, a physician in CDC's influenza division.
A nasal spray containing live but weakened strains of vaccine is available for people ages 2 to 49.
It is especially important for health-care workers to get vaccinated, as they can spread flu to people at high risk for complications and death. Last year, only about 40 percent of health workers were immunized.
"This is a patient-safety issue," Gerberding said.
Last year, 72 percent of people older than 65 got flu shots. Influenza contributes to the deaths of about 36,000 people a year, most of them elderly, although the number dying directly from the infection is much smaller.
The recommendation to vaccinate all children 6 months and older came after better surveillance revealed that thousands are hospitalized each winter for influenza. Last winter, 86 died.
A recent study showed that pregnant women who get flu vaccines pass protective antibodies to their fetuses and newborns.