North Dakota pediatric flu vaccination rates lagging

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FILE – A syringe of high-dose flu vaccine typically given to people over the age of 65 is shown Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Fewer doses of the influenza vaccine have been given to children this fall compared to the same time last year, according to data from the North Dakota Department of Health.

Immunization Surveillance Coordinator Danielle Pinnick says child influenza vaccine rates during the 2020-21 season are 61 percent, a decline from the 2019-20 season of 69.1 percent. Pinnick says a total of 13,000 fewer doses were given this fall than at the same time last year.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that from the 2010-11 season to the 2019-20 season, flu-related hospitalizations in children younger than age 5 have ranged from 7,000 to 26,000 in the U.S.

Dr. Nizar Wehbi, the state’s health officer, says it takes about two weeks for the vaccine to be effective, and that peak flu season is ahead.

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