DALLAS — Three in five Americans say they may delay or skip the flu shot this year, despite warnings from health experts the influenza season could start early and be severe, according to a new survey released this week by the American Heart Association.
While 82% surveyed said they are thinking more about their health due to COVID-19, only 26% said COVID-19 is making them more likely to get the jab this year. Of those surveyed who got the flu shot for the 2020-21 flu season, almost all (98%) said they plan to get vaccinated again this year.
With COVID-19 still stressing many community hospitals, Lloyd-Jones, an epidemiologist and chair of the department of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, emphasized that getting the flu vaccination will help prevent a “twin-demic” in addition to reducing the chances of patients facing a “one-two punch” of severe flu and severe COVID-19 together or back-to-back.
Even without COVID-19 on the scene, influenza and its counterpart pneumonia regularly rank among the top 10 causes of death in the U.S. and can be especially risky for certain populations. During the 2018-19 flu season, more than 9 in 10 (93%) of adults hospitalized with influenza reported at least one underlying medical condition like cardiovascular disease, diabetes or obesity. Heart disease is one of the most common chronic (long-term) conditions among adults hospitalized with the flu—accounting for about half of all flu hospitalizations.
The American Heart Association Survey was conducted by Wakefield Research among 1,000 nationally representative U.S. adults ages 18+, between Aug. 30 and Sept. 7, 2021, using an email invitation and an online survey.