ANN ARBOR — More Americans have either already received a flu shot or plan to get one this year than those who received the vaccination a year ago, according to a new poll from NPR and the Ann Arbor healthcare information firm Truven Health Analytics.
Truven and NPR conduct a bimonthly poll to gauge attitudes and opinions on a wide range of health issues.
The latest survey asked respondents for their opinions regarding flu shots. Sixty-two percent of respondents had either already received a flu shot or planned to get one this year. This reflects a 6 percentage point jump from the number of respondents who said they had received the shot last year.
Seventy-eight percent of respondents said their latest flu vaccine cost them nothing out of pocket. Thirty-five percent received the shot at a doctor’s office, followed by 27 percent who received it at a pharmacy and 16 percent who received it at their place of employment.
When those who said they would not receive a flu shot were asked why they will abstain, the most common response was that it was not needed (48 percent), followed by a concern about side effects (16 percent), fear of getting the flu because of the vaccination (14 percent), and belief that the shot is ineffective (8 percent).
“Unfortunately, the erroneous belief that receiving the vaccine will cause influenza is still fairly common, as this survey shows. The vaccine contains ‘killed virus,’ so there is no risk of contracting influenza from the vaccine. However, the inhaled version does have live virus particles, so this form of vaccine does carry a slight risk,” said Michael Taylor, M.D., Chief Medical Officer at Truven. “The other issue noted from the survey is the idea that people ‘don’t need it.’ If more people receive the vaccine, it is harder for the virus to spread. From a public health perspective, if more Americans receive the vaccine, it would be more difficult for an epidemic to develop.”
To date, the Truven Health Analytics-NPR Health Poll has explored numerous health topics, including generic drugs, vaccines, data privacy, narcotic painkillers and sports-related concussions. NPR’s reports on the surveys are archived online at the Shots health blog here.
Truven Health Analytics maintains a library of poll results here.
The Truven Health Analytics-NPR Health Poll is powered by the Truven Health Pulse Healthcare Survey, the nation’s largest and longest-running independently funded, nationally representative poll that collects information about health-related behaviors and attitudes and healthcare utilization from 82,000 US households annually. Survey questions are developed in conjunction with NPR. The figures in this month’s poll are based on 3,008 participants interviewed from Oct, 1-15. The margin of error is 1.8 percent.