6% less than it was in 2019-2020, according to CDC statistics.
Meanwhile, only half of pregnant women, who are at high risk for severe flu-related complications, got the shot during the 2021-2022 flu season, compared to nearly 55% in the previous season.
Preparing for flu season
For those that are looking to get vaccinated, you have several options to choose from.
People who are 65 or older should get one of the ramped-up flu shots for better protection, Walensky added. There are three types available: Fluzone High-Dose and Flublok, which contain higher doses of the main anti-flu ingredient; and Fluad Adjuvanted, which contains an ingredient to boost immune response.
If one of these flu shots isn’t available, older Americans should get whatever flu shot is, Walensky noted.
Besides getting your annual flu shot and other vaccines, including those for COVID-19 and pneumonia, take precautions to stave off illness, officials said.
“Stay home if you are sick, avoid people who are sick, practice good hygiene, wash your hands often, and cover your mouth when you cough and sneeze,” Walensky said. If you do get the flu, antiviral drugs can shorten its duration and lessen its severity.
The flu vaccine is safe during pregnancy and can also help protect the baby, says Dr. Tamika Auguste, chair of women’s and infants’ services at MedStar Washington Hospital Center in Washington, D.C.
“Women can receive the flu shot during any trimester, postpartum and even while breastfeeding,” Auguste added.
Patricia Stinchfield, president of NFID, stressed that “the flu is not just a bad cold. It can cause life-threatening complications including hospitalization and death, and healthy individuals at any age can get severe influenza.”
The message is clear: “Anyone 6 months of age or older needs a flu vaccine, and this is particularly important for those at high risk for influenza complications including young children, pregnant women, people with compromised immune systems, people aged 65 or older, people with chronic conditions, and certain racial and ethnic minorities,” Stinchfield noted.