STACKER – Your yearly flu vaccine protects you and those around you from the influenza virus, which could be deadly. You should not get vaccinated too early, or you may have reduced immunity by the time the flu virus starts circulating in your community. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends getting a flu vaccine in September or October to prepare for the flu season in the late fall and winter.
Flu vaccines are updated each year to protect you against the viruses in circulation for the upcoming flu season. Vaccines are readily available through places such as health departments, community clinics, and pharmacies. It takes about two weeks after vaccination to produce enough antibodies to the virus to fully protect you against the flu.
To determine the flu vaccination coverage for every state, Stacker consulted the CDC’s Influenza Seasons Vaccination Coverage Trend Report. This source includes six-month coverage estimates based on surveys of residents in each state during flu seasons from 2010-2011 to 2019-2020. States are ranked based on their average vaccination coverage through these ten seasons. Data is of October 1, 2020. There are no ties; ranks are based on numbers with further decimal points that have been rounded in the story.
Keep reading to see your state’s flu vaccination status during the last decade.
Missouri by the numbers
– Average flu vaccination coverage, 2010-20: 46.5%
— 1.6% above national average
– Season with the best coverage: 2019-20 (50.2%)
– Season with the worst coverage: 2011-12 (41.8%)
On Oct. 23, 2020, Dr. Randall Williams, director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, said that as of Sept. 25, the state flu vaccination rate was up 19% compared to the previous year. The department’s flu vaccine initiative for 2020 was called #YouAreWorthAShot.
Almost anyone over 6 months of age can get a flu vaccine, including pregnant women and most people with egg allergies. Flu vaccines are administered either as an intramuscular injection, usually in the upper arm, or as a nasal spray. Vaccines can protect you against three different strains of the flu virus (trivalent vaccines) or four different strains of the virus (quadrivalent vaccines).
The most common side effects of the injectable flu vaccine are soreness at the injection site, muscle aches, and a fever. The side effects of the nasal spray vaccine are the same, and may also include a runny nose.
People over age 65 should get either a high-dose quadrivalent vaccine, which contains four times the flu antigen (the ingredient that prompts your body’s immune response) of the standard quadrivalent vaccine, or an adjuvanted vaccine, which contains an ingredient that prompts a stronger immune response to the virus. In the U.S., both the high-dose vaccine and the adjuvanted vaccine are approved only for people over 65.
States with the highest flu vaccination rates
#1. Rhode Island: 55.9% average flu vaccination coverage, 2010-20
#2. South Dakota: 55.2% average flu vaccination coverage, 2010-20
#3. Massachusetts: 53.8% average flu vaccination coverage, 2010-20
States with the lowest flu vaccination rates
#1. Nevada: 38% average flu vaccination coverage, 2010-20
#2. Florida: 38.8% average flu vaccination coverage, 2010-20
#3. Idaho: 39.4% average flu vaccination coverage, 2010-20