The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) today released its Influenza Vaccine Update and launched a new online flu vaccine data dashboard. Together, the report and data dashboard provide a look at previous and current flu vaccine rates statewide, and highlight communities and areas of the state more vulnerable to the seasonal flu.
As of October 18, over 613,000 Wisconsinites have received an influenza vaccination for the current season. This statewide data, including rates by county, age, sex, race, and ethnicity, will be updated on the DHS website weekly throughout the flu season, which varies in duration, but typically spans the fall and winter.
Looking at flu vaccine rates from across the state, prior to and during the COVID-19 pandemic, DHS data indicate that while there was an overall increase in flu shots given in the early days of the pandemic, the same trend did not occur among children ages 12 and younger. Data also show a drop in flu vaccines in some rural areas of the state during that same time, and consistently show that Black, American Indian/Alaska Native, and Hispanic people in Wisconsin have lower vaccination rates compared to the rest of the state’s population. This trend reflects past and current social and economic barriers for these communities and provides evidence for the continued need to focus on increasing awareness and reducing barriers to getting vaccines.
“This data informs DHS, our partners, and the medical community on health trends and shows where our collective work can help families access both the information and services they need to support the best choices for their health, like getting the flu vaccine,” said Paula Tran, State Health Officer. “Working with our partners, we can engage communities and encourage people to ‘roll up their sleeves’ and protect themselves and the people around them from serious illness.”
An annual flu shot is recommended as safe and effective for everyone 6 months and older, and is especially important for people at high risk of serious illness if they get the virus. Those include:
- Pregnant people
- Young children
- People 65 years and older, especially those living in group settings
- People with certain medical conditions, such as asthma or heart disease
“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, many Wisconsinites, especially children, fell behind on routine vaccines, including the flu shot,” said Dr. Stephanie Schauer, Wisconsin Immunization Program Manager. “As flu season is arriving, now is the time to get caught up. We encourage everyone to make a plan to get up to date on all of vaccines.”