November 12, 2002
STUDY SUGGESTS MILLIONS NOT PROTECTED
AGAINST FIFTH LEADING CAUSE OF DEATH
Charlotte, NC- A new national survey indicates many older Americans are not getting flu and pneumonia vaccinations, despite recommendations for this high-risk group. The study in the most recent edition of the Archives of Internal Medicine shows only 50 percent of adults aged 65 and older received the pneumonia vaccine; only 65 percent get annual flu shots. Separate studies suggest flu vaccination rates are even lower among African-Americans (46.1%).
Pneumonia and flu are the fifth leading cause of death for older Americans nationally. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) an average of about 20,000 people per year in the United States die from the flu, and 114,000 per year are hospitalized due to complications from the flu.
In Mecklenburg County, 100 people died from the flu or pneumonia last year. But, that number continues to trend downward as the number of flu and pneumonia vaccinations given by the Mecklenburg County Health Department trends upward. In 2001, more than 9,000 flu shots were given. About 7,500 flu shots have been given so far this year.
People 65 and older or those with chronic illnesses are encouraged to get the flu and pneumonia vaccinations early in order to insure they develop a level of resistance before flu season takes hold. This is also the first year that young, otherwise healthy children have also been recommended for the flu shot.
The flu shot costs $15 and the pneumonia shot costs $20. There is no charge for patients with Medicaid or Medicare 'B' coverage. Medicaid and Medicare patients are reminded to bring their insurance cards. There is no charge for the flu or pneumonia shots for chronically ill children at risk of developing complications from the flu.
The Mecklenburg County Health Department welcomes walk-in patients for flu and pneumonia shots at either campus. For recorded information in English and Spanish about times, immunization clinic operating hours and costs for the vaccinations, call the Health Department's Flu Clinic Information Hotline at 704-336-4667