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Features & Columns

37% of Americans Plan to Skip Flu Vaccine Even Though Free Shots Are Available

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37% of Americans Plan to Skip Flu Vaccine Even Though Free Shots Are Available

2019-12-05 13:20:19

By Chanel Adams,  Image source:  Whoisjohngalt

Thirty-seven percent of Americans don’t plan to get the flu shot this year, according to a new poll that was released on Tuesday, Dec. 3. A study conducted at NORC at the University of Chicago determined that those who don’t plan to get the flu shot are either concerned with the side effects or don’t believe it’s as effective. Meanwhile, other Americans believe they’re literally immune from getting the flu. And there are some who don’t like needles or believe they’ll get the flu from the vaccine itself.

“Widespread misconceptions exist regarding the safety and efficacy of flu shots," said Caitlin Oppenheimer, senior vice president of Public Health Research at NORC at the University of Chicago. “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.”

This is widely different results from a previous poll. Back in November, 44% of adults said they have received their flu shot while another 18% said they still plan to get vaccinated. There is still plenty of time for Americans to get the flu before peak season hits in February. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends everyone who’s 6 months of age and older to get the flu shot.

However, the effectiveness of the flu shot varies by the season. The vaccine was developed to protect against the current three or four strains of the flu virus that researchers predict will be the most prevalent during flu season. Last year’s vaccine was 29% effective because of a large strain that began to circulate around the second half of the flu season. The flu vaccine is still your best protection against the virus, according to the CDC. The virus kills thousands of Americans each year. In addition, studies have showed that flu symptoms are less severe in those vaccinated.

There are plenty of flu vaccines to go around. While winter hasn’t technically started yet, doctors said it’s already been a “busy flu season.” On Wednesday, Dec. 4, Ascension St. Joseph Hospital in Milwaukee, Wisconsin has provided free flu shots. Patty Allen was doing her errands and decided to get her flu shot at once. Allen told Fox 6 News that she’s not bothered by the flu vaccine. She would rather stay protected during flu season.

“It’s nothing,” said Allen. “It’s just a little prick, and you’re done. There’s a lot of illness going around in the city, and the safer you can be, the better off you can be.” 

Doctors were around the waiting area to inform patients about the importance of getting the flu vaccine. They’re already reporting a very “busy flu season.” The flu has started even earlier this year. There were cases dated all the way back to June.  

“It’s actually been a pretty busy flu season,” said Rob Williams VP of medical affairs. “We had early cases. In fact, had a case in June, believe it or not.”

Williams added that he’s been seeing two or three flu cases at the hospital every other day. While he stresses the importance of the flu shot, he said that everyone can keep the flu from their home.

“Let’s say you do get infected with the virus, but you’ve been immunized,” he said. “Your immune system has already built up a response to that, and therefore, the chance that you will transmit it to someone else is much lower.”

This is the very reason why Allen went to this hospital. She doesn’t have insurance, so she’s been waiting for the perfect opportunity to get a free flu shot. This has made it easier for most Americans to get immunized.

“I work in a food store, and I just want to be healthy for my customers,” said Allen.

The flu shot is especially important for the elderly and young children. Williams said another way to keep yourself healthy this cold and flu season is to simply wash your hands. Of course, the flu shot is free and available everywhere. However, even free flu shots aren’t going to get people vaccinated. Public health officials strongly recommend that almost all Americans get the flu shot. Vaccination rates have gone up for children. Last year, vaccinations increased to 73% from 64% in 2011.

Some Americans don’t like to deal with the hassle of filling out paperwork. Getting the vaccination itself is the easiest part of the entire process. It only takes 10 minutes of your time. But having to get immunized everywhere makes it harder for Americans compared to other vaccinations, which last 10 years or more. And that’s probably why most of them skip the vaccination altogether.

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