Mass. Leads Nation in Flu Vaccination Rates

The Commonwealth leads the nation in flu prevention and vaccinations.

Flu shot image via shutterstock

Flu shot image via shutterstock

The Department of Public Health (DPH) has announced that Massachusetts has the highest rate of vaccinations in the nation, and has the first state lab in the nation to identify a new strain of influenza for this year’s national flu vaccine.

“The Commonwealth’s medical innovation is second to none, and I thank our team at DPH for spearheading these public health advances,” Governor Deval Patrick said in a statement. “Our strong public health outreach and research efforts have led us to this progress, and I hope families and individuals will continue to get vaccinated this season to keep Massachusetts healthy.”

According to the CDC’s 2012-2013 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey and National Immunization Survey, the Commonwealth ranks number one in vaccination rates of all states, with 58 percent of Massachusetts residents receiving influenza vaccines, compared to 45 percent nationally.

Massachusetts also led the nation in the flu vaccination of adults 18 to 64 years of age, with 49 percent vaccinated compared with 36 percent nationally; and among adults 18 to 49 years of age at 45 percent compared with 31 percent nationally. Also, disparities in flu vaccination rates between different races and ethnicities in Mass. have pretty much disappeared. The DPH developed a Flu Vaccine for Everyone campaign to target underserved populations and it apparently worked.

“Vaccination rates are increasing thanks to our success in implementing health care reform, our partnerships with providers, and our progress in removing barriers to wellness and preventive services,” said Secretary of Health and Human Services John Polanowicz in a press release.

Hinton State Lab Identifies New Strain of Influenza

The Patrick Administration also announced that scientists at the DPH’s Hinton State Laboratory Institute identified a new strain of influenza which was one of the four strains included in the development of the 2013-14 influenza vaccine. According to a press release:

The Hinton Lab is the first state laboratory in the nation to successfully identify a new strain for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which named the strain “influenza B/Massachusetts/2/2012-like virus” in recognition of the finding.

Each year, the CDC looks to state health laboratories to help identify what strains of influenza are circulating at the local level across the United States. This information is provided by the CDC to the World Health Organization (WHO), which convenes a group of expert scientists from around the globe to decide which strains to include in the flu vaccine manufactured for the upcoming flu season.

“The Hinton State Laboratory Institute is proud to have played an integral role in the formulation for the most effective vaccine possible against the flu,” said Hinton Lab Director Michael Pentella in a statement. “This recognition is a testament to the hard work of our scientists and researchers who focus on the health and well-being of all Massachusetts residents.”