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CDC Reports More Americans Getting Flu Shots

But overall rate still low, so officials urge everyone over 6 months of age to get vaccinated this season

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Vaccination rates were highest among those aged 65 and older (66 percent) and among children aged 6 months to 4 years (70 percent).

Racial disparities, however, still persist. Although vaccination rates are rising and more children of all races are getting their shot, it's a different story among adults.

Among adult blacks, 36 percent are getting vaccinated and among Hispanics, 34 percent are, which is far below whites, at 45 percent.

This flu season, about 135 million doses of the vaccine will be available, Schuchat said, "and they have already distributed 73 million doses."

"You need to get vaccinated before you are exposed to influenza for the vaccine to work," Schuchat said. "Remember that vaccination is the best way to protect yourself against the flu. It protects you and those you care about -- your loved ones, those you're around."

This year, more types of flu vaccines are available than in the past, Schuchat noted.

In addition to the standard shot, there is a high-dose shot for those aged 65 and older and one made in cell-culture, a new technique for flu vaccine that has been used for a long time for other vaccines, she said.

There is also a shot using a much smaller needle for adults aged 18 through 64; an egg-free version for adults aged 18 through 49; and the nasal spray, for those aged 2 through 49, Schuchat said.

More importantly, for the first time some vaccines will protect against four flu strains, instead of the typical three, she added.

This year's vaccine will protect against three strains most likely to cause the flu -- two "A" variants and one "B" strain, according to the CDC.

All nasal spray vaccine and some types of injected vaccine will also include a second influenza "B" strain, the agency noted.

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