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Survey Shows Some Of The Most Vulnerable To Severe Flu Illness Aren't Getting Vaccinated Against It

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A new survey shows some of those most vulnerable to severe flu illness are not protecting themselves. Doctors say getting the flu vaccine is critical for patients with certain chronic health conditions.

The flu vaccine is especially important for people with chronic health conditions including diabetes, heart disease, and lung disease. A new survey from the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases found just 45% of adult patients say they've been vaccinated.

"It's very concerning," said Dr. William Schaffner, Medical Director, National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, "because that's exactly the group that's highest risk of the complications of influenza, particularly pneumonia."

Dr. Schaffner said that during recent flu seasons, nine out of ten people hospitalized with flu had at least one underlying health condition.

Kerri Sparling has been living with Type 1 diabetes since the age of seven.

"I don't know what it's like to live without Type 1 diabetes. I've had it for such a long time that it's been sort of tied to everything that i have done for better or for worse."

She said, that's why she gets a flu shot every year.

"It's another one of those things that I can do to proactively take good care of myself. Having the flu and also having diabetes can add this really nasty extra layer of issues that I would have to deal with," Sparling said.

There were relatively few flu cases last season because of all the pandemic precautions, but this year, the flu is back. Some large outbreaks have already been reported.

"There was so little flu last year, and vaccination didn't reach the usual levels," Schaffner said. "There's concern that many of us may have built up some susceptibility to flu, all the more important to get vaccinated."

Though flu shot effectiveness varies each season, public health experts say it prevents millions of infections, and can reduce the severity of illness for those who do get sick. That's why they want everyone six months and older to get vaccinated.

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