Nearly One-Third of County’s Older Adults Do Not Get Their Flu Shot
Annual death rate due to flu tops more than 1,300 in Los Angeles County.
LOS ANGELES –Just under 70% (69%) of Los Angeles County’s older adults (ages 65 and older) have received the flu vaccine in the past year, according to a new survey sponsored by the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services (DHS). The results are similar to similar to the rates reported in California (69%) and the nation (66%), but far less than the federal government’s goal of 90% for this age group in Healthy People 2010.
“Although we urge everyone over the age of six months to receive a flu shot every year, adults over 50 years of age are strongly recommended to get vaccinated because they are at highest risk of severe illness,” said Jonathan Fielding, M.D., M.P.H., Director of Public Health and County Health Officer.
In Los Angeles County, the annual number of deaths due to influenza ranged from 1,300 to 2,100 between 1992 and 1998. Nationally, influenza is the leading cause of pneumonia and accounts for 110,000 – 200,000 hospitalizations and 20,000 – 40,000 excess deaths each year depending on the severity of the seasonal epidemic. In addition to seniors, those most at risk from the severest effects of the flu are infants and persons with chronic medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and asthma.
"Most of the illness associated with the flu is preventable with a flu shot each year at this time,” said Alvin Nelson El Amin, M.D., M.P.H. “In some cases, you may still get the flu but it is a much less severe case. The flu shot really is the most reliable way to prevent an illness that we have every year.” Although no local dates are available on flu vaccinations for adults in other age groups, the national rate for adults ages 50 – 64 is 36.8%.
For a copy of the complete study on Influenza Vaccination, visit: lapublichealth.org/ha.
Health survey background: The Los Angeles County Health Survey is a periodic, population-based telephone survey that collects information on socio-demographic characteristics, health status, health behaviors and access to health services among adults and children in Los Angeles County. The 2002- 03 survey collected information on a random sample of more than 8,000 adults and nearly 6,000 children with interviews offered in six languages.
Public Health is committed to protecting and improving the health of the nearly 10 million residents of Los Angeles County. Through a variety of programs, community partnerships and services, Public Health oversees environmental health, disease control and community and family health and comprises more than 4,000 employees with an annual budget exceeding $600 million.