The ongoing 2017–18 flu season is already one of the worst in recent memory. Recently released data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may offer a clue as to one reason: Based on a complete study of the 2016–17 season, the CDC conjectures that influenza immunization rates may have plateaued. During that most recently completed season, just 46.8% of patients age 6 months or older got a flu shot—an increase of just 1.2% over the previous season—which CDC officials say, specifically, increase the risk of outbreaks like the one we’re still experiencing.

The data below offer a snapshot of where strengths of efforts to get patient immunized lie, and where more attention may need to be paid. It also shows how impactful immunization can be even if the efficacy of the vaccine is “only” 42%. (Occupational medicine providers, take special note of how workers respond to immunization promotion by their employers.)

Immunization and Prevention
42% efficacy of the 2016–17 flu vaccine
5.4 million cases
2.7 million doctor visits
86,000 hospitalizations

  • 5.4 million cases, 2.7 doctor visits, and 86,000 hospitalizations were all prevented

What Works at Work?
80% if employers mandate and offer shots on site for >1 day at no cost
73% if employers mandate and offer shots for >1 day, but the worker pays
70% if flu shots are promoted but not available at work
45% if flu shots not mandated, provided on site at no cost, or promoted

  • all percentages displayed are reflective workers who get a flu shot

A Look at Healthcare Workers
79% for all workers in healthcare facilities
96% for clinicians (physicians, NPs, PAs, RNs, pharmacists) when mandated
65% for nonclinical staff (eg, food service, maintenance, administrative

Data source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

A Snapshot of Flu Vaccination Rates
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