National Consumers League

Health

NCL Health Issues

Flu vaccine misconceptions putting everyone at risk

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Woman holding chalkboard sign that says Get Your Flu ShotAccording to federal health agency recommendations, nearly everyone over 6 months of age should get vaccinated for the flu this winter season. Unfortunately, many Americans are woefully misinformed about vaccines and choose not to take this simple step that could bolster their health.

According the to Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) between five percent and 20 percent of American people get the flu every year and an average of 200,000 people are hospitalized annually due to flu related symptoms. Many of those sicknesses and hospitalizations could be avoided if more people got vaccinated.

A recent survey commissioned by NCL uncovered some disturbing numbers about how few Americans get the flu vaccine and the reasons why they choose not to vaccinate. Some of the most notable findings.

  • One in five Americans say they have not received the flu vaccine because they do not believe the flu is a serious illness. The flu is a serious illness and results in deaths every year. While adults over 65, children under two, and people with serious medical conditions have the highest risk of suffering additional complications after getting the flu everyone can succumb to flu-related symptoms that result in hospitalization or death. From 2004-2008, 830 children died from flu-related complications, 43 percent of those children had no high-risk medical condition.
  • One in five parents do not get vaccinated because they fear the vaccine can give them the flu. According to the CDC, the flu vaccine CANNOT give you the flu. Medical professionals universally agree that the flu vaccination is safe and the best chance Americans have to avoid contracting the virus. The most likely side effects are soreness, redness, tenderness, or swelling where the shot was administered.
  • Of the Americans who do not get vaccinated, 45 percent cited their good health as a rationale for bypassing vaccination. Prior to 2010 the CDC recommended only young children, seniors, and people with serious medical conditions get vaccinated. In 2010, however, CDC changed their guidelines and now recommends that everyone, including Americans age 18-49 that are healthy, receive the vaccine annually.
  • Only 44 percent of parents say their children have been vaccinated. This number is too low. The NCL survey revealed that among parents, the flu ranks second only to meningitis as the disease parents are most worried their child may contract. Recently, New York City announced a new provision requiring children who attend preschool or day care to be vaccinated to avoid spreading the disease to others in close proximity.

This winter season, NCL urges you to get the flu vaccination. If you are unsure how to get vaccinated, call your health care provider’s office. To find out more information about the flu, visit CDC’s Web site. Click here to see the full results of NCL’s survey revealing American’s misconceptions of the flu vaccine. Here’s to a healthful winter season!