When it comes to flu shots, most Minnesotans are listening to the experts and getting their vaccinations.
The state ranked sixth in the percentage of people ages 6 months and older who got vaccinated during the 2012-13 flu season, according to analysis released Tuesday by Trust for America's Health, a nonpartisan health policy organization.
The analysis, based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention FluVaxView data set, found that 52.5 percent of Minnesotans were vaccinated in 2012-13, the most recent year available for the CDC data.
Minnesota was one of only 12 states with vaccination rates above 50 percent. Vaccination rates were highest in Massachusetts, which had a 57.5 percent rate, and lowest in Florida at 34.1 percent.
"It's easy to become complacent about the flu. 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," a release quoted Jeffrey Levi, executive director of Trust For America’s Health. "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 ages 18 to 64 years. That group has a nationwide vaccination rate of 35.7 percent, compared to 56.6 percent for children ages 6 months to 17 years old and 66.2 percent of seniors age 65 and older.
Minnesota ranked third in vaccinations for 18- to 64-year-olds with a rate of 45.5 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.
Minnesota is now in the midst of “widespread” seasonal flu activity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As of Jan. 4, the most recent date available, 378 influenza-related hospitalizations have been reported in Minnesota this season, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.