23% of Americans at higher risk for flu complications don't plan on getting vaccine: 9 survey findings

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Nearly 1 in 4 (23 percent) of Americans at higher risk for flu-related complications said they aren't planning on getting the flu vaccine this season, according to a new study commissioned by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases.

NFID commissioned the survey to better understand beliefs, attitudes and practices around the flu and vaccine. Researchers surveyed 1,126 U.S. adults from Aug. 12-16. 

Eight other key survey findings: 

1. Most respondents said they thought vaccination is the best protection against flu deaths and hospitalizations (61 percent), but many (44 percent) do not plan to get vaccinated against the flu during the 2021-22 flu season.

2. Among those who don't plan to get a flu shot, top reasons include: 

  • 39 percent don't think flu vaccines work very well
  • 36 percent said they never get the flu
  • 25 percent are concerned about potential vaccine side effects 
  • 20 percent don't think flu is a serious illness
  • 19 percent are concerned about getting flu from the vaccine

3. Nearly half (48 percent) of respondents said they planned to get a flu vaccine, similar to other flu seasons. Of adults 65 years and older, 71 percent said they intend to get a flu vaccine, compared to 42 percent of adults 18-64 years. So far this year, about 8 percent of adults in the U.S. have received their flu shot, though this flu vaccination season is just getting started, an NFID spokesperson told Becker's.

4. Sixty-eight percent of respondents said last year's mild flu season doesn't affect their likelihood of getting a flu vaccine this season.

5. Twenty-eight percent said the pandemic makes them more likely to get the flu vaccine during the 2021-22 season. 

6. A majority (54 percent) said they intend to wear a mask at least sometimes during flu season. Twenty-two percent of respondents said they will only wear a mask if required, while 16 percent said they will not wear a mask. By demographic, Black adults (73 percent) and Hispanic adults (62 percent) were much more likely than white adults (46 percent) to say they will wear a mask during flu season. 

7. Overall, 37 percent of respondents said they are very or extremely worried about COVID-19 infection, with 19 percent similarly concerned about flu infection. 

8. Fifty-six percent said healthcare professionals are their primary source of flu information.


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