Majority of Adults Don’t Plan on Getting the Flu Vaccine, Survey Reveals
As flu season closes in, The National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) did a 2022 survey to gather information about the general public’s beliefs about respiratory diseases and vaccinations—including both the flu and pneumonia as well as COVID-19. The survey was completed via email and phone from August 11-15, 2022, garnering a total of 1,005 complete responses from US adults aged 18 years and older in all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia. And the findings revealed what may not be surprising to many nurses: a majority of U.S. adults do not plan on getting vaccinated against the flu.
Interestingly enough, a majority of adults actually said that they believe that receiving a flu vaccination is important and the best way to prevent flu-related hospitalizations and death, but despite their beliefs, less than 50% said they actually planned on getting the vaccine. Here’s more about what the survey revealed.
Majority of US adults agree flu vaccination is important, but don’t plan on actually getting vaccinated.
Despite vaccine reservations, 78% of US adults are willing to take antiviral medications for severe flu symptoms.
Trust in healthcare professionals for flu information remains intact.
Hispanic adults are less likely than white adults to trust healthcare professionals, CDC, or vaccination.
No Vaccine For Me, Thanks
The survey revealed that of all U.S. adults, those aged 65 and older planned to get the flu vaccine in higher numbers than adults under the age of 65. Despite the fact that nearly 70% of all adults agreed that getting the flu vaccine is important, less than 50% actually planned to get the vaccine.
Why not? The main reason cited was that they didn’t think flu vaccines actually worked that well. After that, the reasons given were:
Worry over potential side effects from the flu vaccine
The belief that they have never actually gotten the flu
Worry that they would get the flu from the vaccine
Belief that the flu is no big deal
The survey found that many adults expressed additional concerns over potentially receiving both the COVID-19 and flu vaccines at the same time. Only 32% of people said they were very confident about the safety of getting both vaccines at once, while 37% said they were not at all confident in the safety of getting both. And a majority reported that they had no plans to get both vaccines at once.
The survey also noted that 1 in 5 people who didn’t plan on getting the flu vaccine were actually at high risk for complications if they should get infected, which points to a potentially worrisome statistic of how misinformation could impact those at most risk.
And while the majority of Americans don’t plan on getting a flu vaccine and many have reservations about its safety and efficacy, an overwhelming majority (78%) reported that they would be willing to take an antiviral medication prescribed by their doctor for flu symptoms.
Trust in Healthcare Professionals
Fortunately, despite a lack of adults who plan on getting the vaccine, trust in healthcare professionals who provide education on vaccinations and respiratory disease risk seems to have remained intact.
Over three-fourths of US adults reported that they trusted healthcare professionals for flu vaccine information and over half said they still trusted the CDC for flu vaccine information as well. However, some racial disparity did exist, with Hispanic adults reporting less trust in both healthcare professionals and the CDC for accurate information.
Racial disparities also extended to beliefs about the safety of receiving the COVID-19 and flu vaccines at the same time, with both Black and Hispanic adults reporting they did not feel confident in the safety of dual vaccine administration. Education also seemed to play a role in beliefs about vaccine safety, with more non-college-educated adults reporting less trust in vaccine safety.
Despite reservations about the safety of getting the flu and COVID-19 vaccination at the same time, Black adults also displayed different safety behaviors than white and Hispanic adults. For instance, Black adults are more likely to wear a face mask in public.
What Nurses Need to Know
The purpose of the survey was to gather information in order for healthcare professionals to better understand the needs of their patients and help empower them with steps to improve and protect their health. The survey noted that the key behaviors they hope healthcare professionals will take back to their own practices and communities include the following messages:
That receiving both the COVID-19 and flu vaccines at the same time is perfectly safe.
That flu vaccination is important not to just prevent hospitalizations and death, but also other serious complications and things like missing work.
Different versions of the flu vaccine are available for those over the age of 65 and those at high risk that can produce a more robust immune response for better protection.
The flu vaccine is safe and effective. For over 50 years, hundreds of millions of Americans have received the flu vaccine.
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