Minnesota among leading states for H1N1 vaccine coverageMinnesota ranked eighth in the nation in the percentage of all residents who received vaccination for H1N1 influenza, according to national survey data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
By: Staff Report, Alexandria Echo Press
Minnesota ranked eighth in the nation in the percentage of all residents who received vaccination for H1N1 influenza, according to national survey data released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In addition, Minnesota was first in vaccine coverage for people aged 25-64 who have medical conditions that put them at higher risk for influenza-related complications, according to the same data.
The estimates of states’ vaccine coverage rates were published in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) and were based on the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) and the National 2009 H1N1 Flu Survey (NHFS), both telephone surveys conducted between November 2009 and February 2010. The report can be found at http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/.
According to the report, 31 percent of Minnesotans six months of age or older received vaccination for H1N1. The average for all states combined was 24 percent. Also, an estimated 47 percent of Minnesotans age 25-64 at high risk received H1N1 vaccine, putting Minnesota ahead of all states in coverage for that age and risk group.
“As Minnesotans, we can all be proud of our response to this major public health event,” said Minnesota Health Commissioner Sanne Magnan. “The data from CDC show that our unprecedented efforts at collaborating with our many local public health and health care partners were successful.”
According to the survey data, Minnesota was well ahead of the average coverage rates for all states in its region (IL, IN, MI, OH, WI) and the U.S. For example, Minnesota vaccinated 41 percent of those in the initial target group (pregnant women, health care workers and emergency services personnel), compared with 33 percent in the region and 33 percent in the U.S. Also, Minnesota vaccinated 44 percent of children 6 months to 17 years, compared with 36 percent in the region and 37 percent nationally.
By comparison, in a typical flu season Minnesota historically vaccinates above 50 percent for most adult age and risk groups and around 76 percent for those 65 and older.
Magnan said the challenge posed by the pandemic to vaccinate as many Minnesotans as possible required the participation of many partners that have not been involved in public health or immunization efforts in the past. More than 680 new providers were involved in the vaccination efforts. These included pharmacies, ob-gyn and other specialty clinics, colleges and universities, occupational health providers and community vaccinators. Their efforts helped to distribute and administer more than 1.35 million doses of vaccine by more than 1,170 providers in all.
Magnan added that Minnesota’s vaccination success would not have been possible without the involvement of local public health departments, community organizations, faith communities, schools, the news media and the general public. “As a result of so many organizations and people working together to get the word out about H1N1 influenza, many Minnesotans took the important step of getting vaccinated to protect their health, the health of their loved ones and the health of their communities.”
Despite these efforts, state health officials say it’s important to continue vaccinating people for H1N1 and to continue protective health measures.
“H1N1 influenza continues to circulate, although at fairly low levels, in Minnesota and around the country,” said Dr. Ruth Lynfield, state epidemiologist with MDH. “There are some areas of the country where H1N1 appears to be more active at the moment, such as the southeastern U.S.”
Kris Ehresmann, division director for infectious disease at MDH, pointed to the survey as an indication of the need to continue vaccinating. “We know from the data that there are Minnesotans out there who are at higher risk for complications from this disease who have not yet been vaccinated,” she said. “They could be at risk and they can still protect themselves by getting vaccinated now.”
MDH and CDC strongly urge people with underlying health conditions and chronic diseases and those over age 65 to get vaccinated.
“The influenza virus has the capacity to change, including its severity of infections. Vaccination is a great tool to protect our population,” Lynfield said. “The more people that have been immunized, the less likely it will be that a third wave will occur.”
Ehresmann stressed that there is still plenty of vaccine available and that the vaccine is safe; it is made the same way as seasonal influenza vaccine.
“We also want Minnesotans to continue practicing the basics of prevention: good handwashing, covering coughs and sneezes and staying home if you’re ill,” Lynfield said.
For more information on who should be vaccinated and where to find H1N1 vaccine, visit the MDH influenza Web site at http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/idepc/diseases/flu/index.html.