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Why Some Will Get Flu Vaccine -- and Why Some Won't

65% of Moms Say Their Kids Will Get Flu Vaccine
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Flu Vaccine Myths

If doctors are a bit confused over the universal recommendation for flu vaccination, the general public is guilty of some wishful thinking.

One in 10 Americans gets the flu each year. While 90% of deaths are in the elderly, many deaths and hospitalizations occur in otherwise healthy children and adults. And even a "mild" case of the flu will make you miserable for a week.

Yet among the 43% of Americans who say they probably or definitely won't get their flu vaccine this year:

  • 71% say there are other effective ways to prevent flu (Fact: While hand washing helps, it's not nearly as effective as vaccination).
  • 69% say they're healthy, so why worry about the flu.
  • 62% believe the flu vaccine can cause the flu (Fact: It can't) or cause side effects (Fact: The odds of serious harm from a flu shot are extremely small).
  • 51% worry about vaccine ingredients.
  • 47% say they never get the flu.
  • 35% say their immune system will be stronger if they get the flu.
  • 29% say they don't believe in any vaccines.
  • 18% say it's inconvenient to get vaccinated.

Americans have some other misconceptions about the flu vaccine:

  • 62% of adults think the flu vaccine protects against only one flu strain (Fact: It protects against three strains -- type B flu, type A H1N1 flu, and type A H3N2 flu).
  • 34% of adults think hand washing works just as well as vaccination.
  • 43% of adults don't know that grownups under age 50 can get the nasal mist vaccine instead of the flu shot.

The survey of mothers, conducted Aug. 12-25 among a national sample of 505 mothers of children ages 6 months to 18 years, has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. It was fielded by Opinion Research Corporation.

The survey of doctors, conducted in September among 101 pediatricians and 300 primary care physicians, has a margin of error of plus or minus 5.8 percentage points. It was fielded by Sermo Inc.

The adult survey, conducted Aug. 27-30 in 1,010 adult men and women age 18 and older, has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points. It was fielded by Opinion Research Corporation.

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