According to a survey conducted by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID), only 49% of American adults plan to get the flu shot this flu season. Even 1 in 5 people who are at higher risk of flu-related complications say they won’t get the shot.
People most likely to have serious consequences from influenza infection include people over 65, pregnant women, children under five, and people with underlying medical conditions, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“We know that getting the flu shot is still the best way to protect you and your family against the flu,” CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said at the NFID conference on Tuesday.
Most Americans agree. Nearly 70% believe getting the annual flu shot is the best way to prevent flu-related deaths and hospitalizations, the NFID found. And yet, many people are still reluctant to get vaccinated.
In place, more and more American adults are turning to masking as a form of protection against the flu. A higher percentage of Americans (58%) plan to mask up at least sometimes this flu season than plan to get the flu shot.
Why more Americans are skipping the flu shot — and what they’re doing instead
Here are some of the top reasons given by adults for not getting vaccinated this season:
- 41% think flu shots don’t work very well
- 39% are concerned about vaccine side effects
- 28% say they never catch the flu
- 24% fear getting the flu from the vaccine
- 20% don’t think the flu is a serious illness
“With Covid, people forgot about the flu. It’s another serious winter respiratory virus, it can do a lot of damage to you,” NFID medical director William Schaffner said at the conference. “The key to prevention is vaccination.”
The changed approach to this flu season may in part be due to the timing of the omicron-specific reminder and people’s concerns about getting both the updated Covid reminder and the flu shot. According to the survey, only 32% of American adults are very confident that it is safe to receive vaccines at the same time.
The CDC says it has been shown to be safe. Studies of more than 450,000 people indicate that only mild symptoms are experienced after receiving the vaccines concurrently, Walensky says, adding that “most of them resolve very quickly.”
Meanwhile, choosing to get vaccinated over another is not a wise decision, warns Walensky. It helps to increase your body’s defenses against both viruses.
And, she reiterates, bundling them is both easy and safe: “You want to make sure you get both, and it’s often more convenient to get them at the same time.”
Common symptoms after receiving a Covid vaccine and a flu shot at the same time usually include:
- Pain at the injection site or in the arm where the shot was given
“Flu vaccines work. For more than 50 years, hundreds of millions of Americans have received their vaccines safely,” said Patricia Stinchfield, president of the NFID. “Why take the risk of not being vaccinated?”
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