This year’s particularly severe flu season is finally winding down. Fortunately — despite the fact that hospital emergency rooms overflowed with unusually high numbers of sick patients, several cities declared a state of public health emergency, and the CDC officially declared it an epidemic — the fatality rates weren’t significantly higher than usual. The CDC reports that 105 children died from the flu this winter, an average toll.
But the agency also noted that, even though all but four of the children who passed away were old enough to get a flu shot, 90 percent of them did not get vaccinated. CDC officials recommend that all children over 6 months old get a flu shot, but Americans still aren’t necessarily following that advice. This past winter, less than half of Americans got their flu shots.
In fact, more broadly, Americans aren’t getting all of the vaccinations that the CDC recommends. The federal agency recently reported that “unacceptably low” numbers of adult Americans are getting their shots for infectious diseases. That could partly be because some lingering stigma surrounding vaccines has perpetrated myths, like the false idea that getting the flu shot will lead to contracting influenza — or the misguided right-wing fearmongering that vaccines lead to autism or mental retardation.