Half of U.S. adults plan to get the flu shot this year as scientists warn of a potentially severe upcoming flu season, according to a survey released Wednesday.
The survey from the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases found 49 percent of respondents said they plan to get a flu shot during the 2022-23 flu season, although almost seven in 10 said they recognized that a flu vaccine is the best measure to take against flu-related hospitalization and death.
The survey also found that 58 percent said they would wear a mask at least sometimes during flu season, which the foundation said marks a stark contrast from preventative flu behavior before the COVID-19 pandemic.
But more than 40 percent said they are unsure or do not plan to get the vaccine this year. The top reasons for those who said they would not get it are that they do not think it works well and they are worried about possible side effects.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 51 percent of Americans aged 6 months and older received a flu vaccine during last year’s flu season, including 49 percent of adults.
Pandemic lockdowns and other preventative measures caused the past two flu seasons to be relatively mild, but health experts have warned that this year’s season could be exceptionally severe. With fewer people than normal getting the flu over the past two years, fewer people are likely to be immune from the virus this year.
“With a potentially challenging flu season ahead, I urge everyone to protect themselves and their families from flu and its potentially serious complications,” CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said in a release announcing the survey results.
Health officials have been urging older Americans to get an extra-strength flu shot that is designed to boost adults’ immune response this year.
The results of the survey show 78 percent of adults aged 65 and older know that certain flu vaccines are preferentially recommended for them.
Data has shown that older Americans are consistently more likely to get a flu vaccine than younger Americans. The results of the survey show 65 percent of respondents aged 65 and older plan to get the vaccine, compared to only 45 percent of those 18 to 64.
The survey also found that 53 percent of adults said they have a great deal or a lot of trust in the CDC to provide flu vaccine information.
The survey was conducted among 1,005 U.S. adults. The margin of error was plus or minus 4.2 percentage points.