By James Warden and Matt Perkins
The majority of Massachusetts residents are listening to experts who recommend getting flu shots, a new study has found.
The state ranked first in the percentage of people aged 6 months and older who received vaccinations during the 2012-2013 flue season, according to a Trust for America's Health analysis this week.
The report is based on FluVaxView data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and found that 57.5 percent of Massachusetts residents were vaccinated in the 2012-2013 season, which was the most recent year available for CDC Data.
Massachusetts was one of only 12 states with vaccination rates above 50 percent, with a 57.5 percent rate. Florida had the lowest at 34.1 percent.
"It's easy to become complacent about the flu," a release quoted Jeffrey Levi, executive director of Trust For America’s Health. "We're used to it, it happens every year. So much so that we forget that it is largely preventable through a quick shot—which I might add is now free to most Americans thanks to the Affordable Care Act. The flu isn't just an uncomfortable inconvenience, it is deadly and costly. And millions of Americans do not even have paid sick leave, so they either go to work sick—infecting others—or do not get paid."
Rates are lowest among adults, aged 18-64 years; the group has a nationwide vaccination rate of 35.7 percent, compared to 56.6 percent for children aged 6 months to 17 years and 66.2 percent of seniors aged 65 years and older.
Massachusetts also ranked first in vaccinations for those aged 18-64 years, with a rate of 48.5 percent.
"The trend of low vaccination rates among younger adults is particularly troubling this year, when they are more at risk than usual for the effects of the H1N1 strain of flu that's circulating," the release quoted Levi.
Much of the country is now in the midst of “widespread” seasonal flu activity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As of Jan. 10, the most recent date available, 10.3 per 1,000 influenza-related hospitalizations have been reported in Massachusetts this season, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.