U.S. Adults Forgoing Flu Shot

October 18, 2019

Study shows that efficacy is a major concern.

A large percentage of U.S. adults don’t plan to get the flu shot this year, even though most agree it’s the best preventative measure, according to a new survey.

The survey, conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago on behalf of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID), found that just 52% of respondents said they planned to get vaccinated against the flu for the upcoming season. Of those surveyed over the summer, 18% weren’t sure of their plans. 

Even more troubling is the finding that 25% of those considered at a higher risk for flu-related complicated reported they don’t plan to get a flu shot despite their risks. 

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The most common reason respondents reported for not getting the flu shot was that they (51%) did not believe it was effective. Others reported being considered about side effects (34%) or being concerned about getting the flu from the shot (22%). 

While just over half plan to get vaccinated against the flu, most of the 1,002 adults surveyed from all 50 states and the District of Columbia do see the value in the shot.

Survey leaders found that 60% of those surveyed agreed that the flu vaccination was the best preventative measure against death and hospitalization resulting from the flu. 

At a news conference in September, Dr. Bill Schaffner the medical director for NFID recommended that anyone over the age of six months get the vaccine each year.

“Flu is unpredictable, but we can predict that it will arrive,” he said, according to ABC News

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However, recent statistics paint a different reality. During the 2017-2018 flu season, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention found that just 37.1% of adults had been vaccinated, a 6% drop from the previous year.

The figure is higher for children who had received at least one dose of flu vaccine (57.9%); however, those figures remain lower than many medical experts would like to see.

“Even if you get influenza after having received the vaccine, you are likely to benefit by having a less severe and shorter illness,” Schaffner told Connecticut Public Radio, “and more importantly, you’re less likely to suffer the complications, including pneumonia, hospitalization and dying.”

The CDC estimates that the flu has resulted in between 9.3 million and 49 million illnesses each year since 2010 in the United States alone.