Many Americans planning to avoid flu vaccination


As the 2019-20 flu season got underway, more than half of American adults had not yet been vaccinated, according to a survey from the research organization NORC at the University of Chicago.

Only 44% of the 1,020 adults surveyed said that they had already received the vaccine as of Nov. 7-11, when the poll was conducted. Another 18% were planning to get a flu shot, but 37% of respondents said that did not intend to get one this season, the NORC reported. About 1% of those surveyed said they didn’t know or skipped the question.

Age was a strong determinant of vaccination status: 35% of those aged 18-29 years had gotten their flu shot, along with 36% of respondents aged 30-44 years and 34% of those aged 45- 59 years, compared with 65% of those aged 60 years and older. Of the respondents with children under age 18 years, 43% said that they were not planning to have the children vaccinated, the NORC said.

Concern about side effects, mentioned by 37% of those who were not planning to get vaccinated, was the most common reason given to avoid a flu shot, followed by belief that the vaccine doesn’t work very well (36%) and “never get the flu” (26%), the survey results showed.

“Widespread misconceptions exist regarding the safety and efficacy of flu shots. Because of the way the flu spreads in a community, failing to get a vaccination not only puts you at risk but also others for whom the consequences of the flu can be severe. Policymakers should focus on changing erroneous beliefs about immunizing against the flu,” said Caitlin Oppenheimer, who is senior vice president of public health research for the NORC, which has conducted the National Immunization Survey for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention since 2005.

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