Pediatric flu vaccinations down about 25% from this time last year > Washington State Department of Health

For immediate release: Nov 15, 2021 (21-224)

Contact: DOH Communication

Vaccinations against childhood flu down about 25% from last year around this time

Sharp drop in childhood flu vaccination coverage is worrying

OLYMPIA – The childhood flu vaccination rate has dropped significantly this fall compared to the previous two flu seasons. Now, the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) is encouraging families to get themselves and their children vaccinated as soon as possible to keep people safe and out of the hospital, especially as we enter the holiday season.

The flu is a highly contagious disease that can cause serious illness and death even in healthy people. Recent data from the Washington State Immunization Information System shows that flu vaccinations fell by about 25% for children 6 months to 5 years old during the months of September and October. Since flu activity was very low last year, we expect fewer people to have natural immunity this year due to lack of exposure, especially in younger age groups.

“The flu can be serious for children and a flu vaccine is the best way to protect them. With the holidays fast approaching, it’s critical that parents take precautions now to keep everyone in the family healthy and safe,” said Dr. Tao Sheng Kwan-Gett, Chief Science Officer. “A flu vaccine is especially important this year because of the potential dangers of both flu and COVID-19 circulating at the same time.”

Flu activity is unpredictable. The timing, severity, and duration can change from year to year. Typically, flu activity peaks between December and February, although significant activity can persist through May.

“We are concerned that our youngest children remain vulnerable to both the flu and COVID-19 disease,” said Umair A. Shah, MD, MPH, Health Minister. “While the COVID-19 vaccine is not yet available for children ages 4 and under, the flu vaccine is. As parents, we want to do everything we can to protect our children — and vaccination is an important resource available to every family in Washington.”

The flu vaccine is available at pharmacies, clinics, and health care providers’ offices across the state. To search for flu vaccines, visit Vaccines.gov. The flu vaccine is recommended for anyone 6 months and older. When kids get their flu vaccine, it’s a good time to make sure they’re up to date on their other routine childhood vaccinations as well. People 5 years and older who are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine can get it on the same day they get the flu vaccine.

Visit www.KnockOutFlu.org for weekly flu activity reports, educational materials, vaccine information, and other flu prevention resources.

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