Got the Flu Shot? Half Say 'No'
53% of U.S. Adults Still Haven't Gotten Flu Vaccine
Dec. 10, 2008 -- More than half of U.S. adults have no intention of getting
a flu shot this year, leaving
them vulnerable to getting -- and spreading -- the dangerous disease.
The finding comes from the first-ever midseason analysis of who got the shot
and who did not.
It's not a good report card for public health, says William Schaffner, MD,
president-elect of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases and chairman
of preventive medicine and infectious diseases at Nashville's Vanderbilt
"Seventy percent of us adults should be vaccinated according to CDC's
specific recommendations -- never mind that the CDC says everybody else should,
too," Schaffner said at a news conference. "This looks like we are not
doing very well, and must do better."
About one in 20 Americans gets the flu
each year -- and that's in a very good flu season. In a bad year, you have a
1-in-5 chance of spending three to five days unable to get out of bed, missing
a week of work or school, and taking about two weeks to recover.
And that's just if you have an average, uncomplicated case of the flu. If
you have an underlying illness, or if you're over age 50 or an infant, your risk is much higher. Every year, the CDC
says, flu kills 36,000 Americans.
You can avoid all this if you get the flu vaccine, either the flu shot or
the flu sniff (the FluMist intranasal vaccine). Even in a year when the
made-in-advance vaccine doesn't fully match circulating flu viruses, the
vaccine makes the flu milder.
Even though it's just two weeks before Christmas, there's still plenty of
time to get your flu shot. Most years, flu season doesn't peak until February,
and it sometimes comes as late as March. But every year, it does come.
Who Says 'No' to the Flu Shot, and Why
And this year, despite a record number of flu doses on hand, many of us
remain at risk. The RAND Internet-based survey of some 4,000 U.S. adults shows
- 53% have no intention of getting flu vaccine, and 17% say they haven't yet
but plan to.
- 70% of healthy adults under age 50 have no intention of getting the
vaccine; 16% say they plan to.
- 46% of adults for whom flu vaccination is strongly recommended -- those
with underlying conditions, those over 50, or those in close contact with
infants, the ill, or the elderly -- have no intention of getting the vaccine;
17% say they plan to.
And too many people with conditions that make them especially vulnerable to
flu aren't getting the news:
- 52% of people with asthma have no intention of
getting the flu vaccine.
- 30% of people with diabetes have no intention of getting the flu
- 24% of people with heart
disease have no intention of getting the flu vaccine.
- 21% of people with chronic lung disease have no intention of getting the