By Mike Stobbe
Saturday, January 16, 2010; A05
ATLANTA -- About one in five Americans has been vaccinated against swine flu, according to the government's first detailed estimates of vaccination rates against the pandemic.
The estimate is based on two government telephone surveys done in December and early January. The surveys concluded that an estimated 61 million people -- or about 20 percent of the population -- got a shot or nasal spray vaccination against the H1N1 virus since the vaccine became available in the fall.
One spokesman from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the numbers are good, considering that it was a hurried campaign against a novel flu virus using a vaccine that did not become available to the public until early October, and then, only in limited supplies.
"From our point of view, this looks very successful," said Richard Quartarone, the spokesman.
The report backs up a rough estimate used by health officials in recent weeks that more than 60 million Americans had been vaccinated.
It also shows that vaccination rates were a bit higher for people deemed to be especially vulnerable to the new influenza, including children, pregnant women and people with underlying health conditions
The results were released Friday through a CDC publication, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. One survey involved about 6,000 people. The number who responded to the second survey was not included in the report.
CDC officials also released on Friday new estimates of the numbers of Americans who were sick, hospitalized or died as a result of the virus.
An estimated 55 million became ill from swine flu from the time it was first identified in April through mid-December. About 246,000 Americans were hospitalized and 11,160 died.
The CDC last estimated that through mid-November, the pandemic had sickened 50 million Americans and caused 10,000 deaths.
Swine flu infections have been waning since late October, and no states were reporting widespread cases as of last week.
-- Associated Press