The number of adults who got a flu shot declined last season, which was the deadliest in four decades, according to final estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Estimates of flu vaccination coverage among adults shows 37.1 percent of Americans age 18 and older received a flu shot last season, down 6.2 percent from the previous season.
Vaccine coverage for the 2017-18 flu season — when more than 80,000 people died from flu in the U.S. and 900,000 were hospitalized — was the lowest in seven flu seasons, said the CDC.
"It is important that providers prioritize flu vaccination for their patients," said the CDC in a statement.
Both Florida and New York City have reported their first pediatric deaths of the flu season, which commonly peaks between December and February.
Dr. Paul Auwaerter, clinical director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said the dip could play a factor in the severity of last flu season.
"No doubt if people receive fewer influenza immunizations, that played a role," said Auwaerter. "But it is also true that the vaccine was not as well matched against the strains that circulated."
Federal health officials have urged Americans to get their shot as the flu season ramps up. During a news conference last month, Surgeon General Jerome Adams urged more Americans to get the flu shot. "That herd immunity is so, so very important," he said.
The CDC recommends everyone ages 6 months and older receive a flu shot or nasal spray. On Wednesday, the Food and Drug Administration approved a single-dose flu medication for people 12 and older who have had the flu no more than 48 hours.
Auwaerter said many people don't get the flu shot because they feel they don't need it, or due to misconceptions such as the flu shot will give you the flu. But he notes the vaccine will help people avoid additional complications if they do get the flu.
"It really is important that people realize everyone can get the flu, and influenza immunization is the best way we can protect ourselves against having terrible consequences," he said.
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