Health Team

Flu vaccinations declined last year despite doctors' recommendations

Posted October 4, 2016

We're on the cusp of flu season, so doctors say now is the time to get vaccinated.

The virus sickens millions each year and sends hundreds of thousands to the hospital. Sometimes the flu causes complications that can lead to death.

An annual flu shot is a priority for the Marotta family.

In 2009, the Marotta's son, Joseph, was one of the children who died after getting the flu.

Joseph was a healthy boy until the sickness came on suddenly when he started kindergarten.

"The doctor just stopped, and she just looked at us and said, 'I'm so sorry,'" said Serese Marotta, Joseph's mother.

Last year, 85 children died from the flu and its complications. Public health officials are concerned parents might be less likely to get their kids vaccinated this year because the nasal spray is not available.

Doctors urge everyone over 6 months to get the shot

"This year's flu vaccine matches what is predicted to occur this year but whether that happens or not, only time will tell," said CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden, who got the flu shot himself. "What we do know is that flu shots work."

About 45 percent of the population got the flu vaccine last year, a slight decrease from the previous season. The Marottas, though, hope that number increases this year.​

"That's why we share our story," Serese Marotta said. "We don't want history to repeat itself."

As many as 168 million doses of flu vaccine are expected to be available in the coming weeks and months.

Pregnant women are especially encouraged to get the flu vaccine because they're much more likely to have complications if they get sick.


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