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Study: Not enough Americans get the flu shot

(Chris Hondros/Getty Images)

Flu season has begun, but it's not too late to get a flu shot.

Recent research looked at the number of Americans who get vaccinated against the flu.

The study looked at data from a national health survey between the years 2010-2016.

"What they showed was, over that time period, there was a moderate increase in the number of folks getting vaccinated, but it still certainly showed that this is way below where our country needs to be at," said Dr. Kristin Englund, of Cleveland Clinic, who did not take part in the research. 

Results show while vaccination coverage among adults increased from 38.3% to 43.4%, the numbers fell short of the goal of having 70% of U.S. adults vaccinated.

Englund pointed out one troubling statistic from the research -- only half of pregnant women are getting vaccinated against the flu.

She said this is especially dangerous, because pregnant women are not only at a higher risk of getting the flu but also have a greater risk of suffering a complication from the flu virus, which can negatively impact both mom and baby. 

Englund believes the low rates of vaccination can sometimes be a result of misinformation, or in some cases, can be due to a lack of access to the flu shot.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the flu was responsible for more than 61,000 deaths last season. 

Englund said those at highest risk of hospitalization and death from the flu include pregnant women, adults over the age of 65, and children under the age of five.

She said getting the flu shot is, by far, the best way to protect yourself and others from getting the flu.

"Even though the vaccine may not be 100 percent protective, it certainly decreases the number of days of symptoms that a person is going to have," said Englund. "It will get you back to work sooner, get your kids back to school sooner, and you just feel overall better, even if you get exposed to the flu." 

Complete results of the report can be found in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.