Officials Warn Too Few Who Need Flu Shots Get Them

WASHINGTON - Government health officials are sounding an alarm that only a fraction of the people who need flu shots the most are getting them.  Their figures show just one in five babies and toddlers are getting flu vaccines.

The warning comes from officials who are worried a string of mild flu seasons and confusion over vaccines in recent years are deterring people from a simple livesaver.

Manufacturers expect to ship more than 130 million doses of flu vaccine in coming months.  And, officials say it's not too late to get vaccinated later, in the winter.

The flu kills about 36,000 Americans a year, and lands about 200,000 in the hospital.

Vaccines are recommended especially for anyone over 50 or under 5, and people with asthma, heart disease, and other chronic illnesses; pregnant women; and anyone who comes in close contact with high-risk patients.

Numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that Arkansas vaccinates a slightly greater number of people in age groups 50-to-64 and 65-and-older than the national average.  Slightly fewer Arkansans age 18-to-49 get flu shots than the national average.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)