St. Paul, MN (KROC AM News) - The Center for Disease Control and Prevention remained concerned that too many children still remain unvaccinated for influenza each year, leaving children vulnerable to serious illness and even death from influenza and its potential complications.

The CDC released the National Immunization Survey results and it shows that about 62 percent of Minnesota children between the ages of 6 months and 17 years received vaccinations during the 207-18 flu season, which is slightly up from estimates from the previous two years. The overall rate is at 58.9 percent, which is a decrease of 1.1 percent.

“Protecting slightly more Minnesota children from influenza last year is good news, especially given the lack of a no-shot, nasal spray option, but we still have too many children left unprotected from this potentially serious disease,” said Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm. “The flu vaccine protects those who receive it as well as those in the community who cannot be vaccinated due to medical conditions.”

Five children died from influenza or related complications during last year’s flu season, and more than 6,400 Minnesotans were hospitalized for influenza. The CDC says that 74 percent of the 172 pediatric deaths across the nation last year involved unvaccinated children, and most of them did not have underlying health conditions.

“Since children can’t make the decision to get vaccinated themselves, it’s up to parents and health care providers to make it happen,” MDH Infectious Disease Division Director Kris Ehresmann said. “Parents should ask their health care provider about influenza vaccine and providers should check the vaccination status of patients at every visit and strongly recommend vaccination.”

It was also noted that there are greater opportunities for influenza vaccination today so there are fewer excuses for not vaccinating children, especially school-age children and adolescents.

“Many clinics will be offering walk-in hours for influenza vaccine over the next few months, so check with your home clinic,” Ehresmann said. “Also, most pharmacies and convenience clinics offer walk-in vaccinations for influenza. Some local public health agencies also offer the vaccine.”

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