Just a third of U.S. adults got flu shots

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Fewer than a third of U.S. adults have received a flu vaccine so far this year and only about half said they intended to get one, according to a survey released on Wednesday.

Doses of a flu vaccine lie on a table as San Luis Obispo County public healthcare professionals conduct a mass flu vaccination drill at the Veterans building in San Luis Obispo, California October 31, 2006. REUTERS/Phil Klein

The Rand Corp. survey showed that 30 percent of the 4,000 adults had already been vaccinated, 17 percent planned to get one before the season ended and 53 percent said they would not get a flu shot this year.

“What we’re seeing here are huge opportunities for improvement,” said Rand economist Katherine Harris, who helped write the report.

“This report provides the public health community with a midseason snapshot while there’s still time to act,” she added.

More than 40 percent of people who had not been vaccinated said they did not have time, while 25 percent felt they did not need one.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that 261 million Americans -- 85 percent of the population -- should be vaccinated against flu. There is still time to do so before the North American peak in January and February.

During shortages, Americans have lined up for flu shots but the CDC says there is record supply this year of up to 146 million doses.

In an average year, influenza kills about 36,000 people and sends 200,000 to the hospital in the United States annually.

Companies that make flu vaccine for the U.S. market include Sanofi Pasteur, Australia’s CSL, GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis AG and nasal spray maker MedImmune, acquired by AstraZeneca.

Glaxo helped pay for the Rand survey.

Reporting by Maggie Fox; Editing by Eric Walsh