What state flu vaccination rates may forecast about coronavirus vaccine distribution

State flu vaccination rates may give health officials a glimpse of areas of the country in need of more targeted COVID-19 vaccination efforts, an analysis by  the Kaiser Family Foundation reveals.  

The foundation analyzed seasonal flu vaccination rates for the 2019-2020 flu season by state, age, race and ethnicity and health risk status. The data for the analysis was obtained from the CDC’s 2019-2020 Influenza Season Vaccination Coverage Dashboard.

Six takeaways:

  1. Flu vaccination rates varied significantly by state last year, and all states fell below national targets. Across the U.S., 52 percent of people received the flu shot last year. The HHS’ target is 70 percent of the population.
  2. Many states have low vaccination rates among populations who have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19, such as people of color, particularly Black Americans.
  3. In 12 states, less than half of the population was vaccinated for the flu. Vaccination rates were highest in the Northeast and lowest in the West.
  4. In most states, flu vaccination rates were highest for seniors, followed by children. Non-elderly adults had the lowest rate. Adults with comorbidities were more likely to be vaccinated, but rates were still below national targets in all states.
  5. Flu vaccination rates at the national level showed persistent racial disparities among adults, with lower rates of vaccination among Black, Hispanic and and American Indian and Alaska Native populations compared to white people. Washington, D.C., reached vaccination rates above the 70 percent target for white people, but the rate for Black people was just 44 percent. No state achieved the target vaccination rate for Black or Hispanic people.
  6. The findings suggest there may be significant challenges to achieving equity in distributing COVID-19 vaccines to enough people to ensure sufficient levels of immunity. Targeting populations that have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic may provide an important avenue to increase success, Kaiser Family Foundation said.

Find the full analysis here.

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