USA TODAY – More than 4 in 10 Americans aren’t sure about or aren’t planning on getting a flu shot this year, a new survey found, in a worrying trend public health experts say could exacerbate a worse-than-average flu season.
Last year’s worries around a “twindemic” of influenza and COVID-19 overwhelming hospitals around the nation luckily went unfounded after a historically mild flu season.
But with COVID-19 vaccinations affording many people a return to more “normal” lives of socialization and in-person work during flu season, hospitals and health systems could be strained in parts of the country where vaccination against both viruses remains low, doctors say.
Dr. William Schaffner, medical director for the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases said:
“We’re particularly concerned because COIVD is out there. Flu will come back this year. And we don’t want to further stress our already very stressed health care system.”
“COVID is going to remain active in those parts of the country. And then if you add influenza to that, I think in parts of the country, we could have a tough winter.”
And while COVID-19 cases are declining nationally, there are parts of the country “where a large proportion of the population is undervaccinated against COVID,” Schaffner said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention it is safe to get your COVID-19 vaccine and flu vaccine at the same time.
The COVID-19 booster is now available to those over 65 and to workers whose jobs put them at high risk of exposure.
A survey of more than 1,000 U.S. adults commissioned by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases found that while more than 60% of Americans agreed the flu shot was the best way to prevent flu deaths and hospitalizations, 44% said they were unsure about or not planning to get a flu vaccine this year.
The causes of flu vaccine hesitancy may be less political than the divides driving COVID-19 vaccine skepticism, Schaffner said … READ MORE.