H1N1 flu strain is hitting younger adults

Tuesday, January 14, 2014
By Paul Martin

New report shows that only a third of 18-64-year-olds vaccinated

By Tim Darragh
MCall.com
January 14, 2014

Thanks to a stint in jail, Tony Partington literally stood out in a crowd.
Waiting for a bus in a circle of friends outside the Allentown Transportation Center Tuesday, Partington, 28, admitted to being the only one in the group of young adults to have received the flu vaccine for the current season.

“I got it in prison and they were giving them for free,” he said. Otherwise, he said, he wouldn’t have gotten vaccinated.

That protection from the influenza virus put the Easton man in the minority among not only his friends, but his entire age group, according to a new study by Trust For America’s Health. The Washington-based public health nonprofit issued a report Tuesday, saying little more than a third of Pennsylvania adults ages 18-34 got the flu vaccine last year.

If that trend holds for the current flu season, that will be bad news since the predominant strain, the same H1N1 virus that sparked a pandemic five years ago, strikes adults with particular ferocity.

“The trend of low vaccination rates among younger adults is particularly troubling this year, when they are more at risk than usual for the effects of the H1N1 strain of flu that’s circulating,” said Jeffrey Levi, executive director of the health organization.

According to the organization’s analysis of federal data, Pennsylvania ranked 32nd among the states with 35 percent of adults 18-64 receiving the vaccine.

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