According to a new survey, over 4 in 10 Americans are unsure about or do not intend to get a flu shot this year, a worrying trend that public health experts believe will exacerbate an already difficult flu season.
Last year’s concerns about a “twindemic” of influenza and COVID-19 overrunning hospitals across the country were, thankfully, unfounded following a historically mild flu season.
However, with COVID-19 vaccinations allowing many people to return to more “normal” lives of socialization and in-person work during flu season, doctors warn that hospitals and health systems may be overburdened in areas where vaccination against both viruses can be vaccinated low.
‘We Could Have A Tough Winter’
“We’re particularly concerned about COVID,” said Dr. William Schaffner, medical director of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases. “This year, the flu will return. And we don’t want to add additional strain to an already overworked health care system.”
While COVID-19 cases are decreasing across the country, there are still areas “where a large proportion of the population is unvaccinated against COVID,” according to Schaffner.
“COVID is going to remain active in those parts of the country. And then if you add influenza to that, I think in parts of the country, we could have a tough winter.”
According to Schaffner, the causes of flu vaccine hesitancy may be less political than the divides that drive COVID-19 vaccine skepticism. They are done yearly, and unlike vaccines for polio or measles, which have virtually eradicated those diseases in the United States, the flu remains.
According to a survey of more than 1,000 U.S. adults commissioned by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, while more than 60% of Americans agreed that getting a flu shot was the best way to prevent flu deaths and hospitalizations, 44% were unsure or did not plan to get a flu vaccine this year.
The most common reason for flu vaccine aversion by adults polled was that it doesn’t work very well. According to Schaffner, while the flu vaccine is far from perfect, it still offers significant protection against hospitalization and death.
“It would be great if we had a vaccine that was even more effective than what we have,” said Dr. Thomas Holland, an infectious diseases specialist at Duke University Hospital.
And they added that the most effective way, the best tool they have to prevent influenza infections, hospitalizations, and deaths is still the annual vaccine.
Respondents also stated that they would not get a flu shot because they never got the flu, were concerned about side effects, did not consider flu a severe illness, or were worried about contracting the flu from the vaccine.
The flu vaccine cannot give people the flu, and side effects indicate that the body’s immune system is working properly. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it can also be given alongside a COVID-19 vaccine.
Read Related Article: Twindemic: Flu And COVID-19; Importance Of Flu Shot In The Middle Of COVID-19