Flu Vaccine: Hype or Hope?

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When I walk around New York in the winter time, it feels like I run across a drugstore on every other block with a large ad in the window for flu vaccinations. The ads offer a quick, walk-in vaccination covered by most health insurance policies, which sounds like a pretty good deal.

Not everyone is persuaded by those ads, however. In our upcoming BuzzPoll infographic on flu vaccination, more than half of respondents (54%) have no set plans to get a flu vaccine this year, with the primary reason for non-vaccination being skepticism over how effective flu vaccines are. Unfortunately, some of that doubt is particularly warranted this flu season, as the CDC has reported that flu vaccines are only 23% effective this year, compared to a typical flu prevention rate of 60-65%. The main influenza A (H3N2) strain circulating this year has mutated enough that about 68% of those viruses are genetically different from the flu viruses used in this year’s vaccines.

Still, even a less effective vaccine offers some level of protection, especially considering that the flu vaccine protects against several different strains of flu. So a flu shot now could also protect you from some of the different strains that emerge throughout the flu season. Half of our BuzzPoll respondents who do plan to get vaccinated this season cite doctor recommendation as a reason, and the CDC recommends annual vaccination for everyone 6 months and up (with only a few rare exceptions).

So if you’re among the more than half of Americans who haven’t been vaccinated yet, maybe you’ll want to take a second look the next time you pass by an ad for the flu vaccine. As for me? Walking by all those drugstores drove the message home – I got my flu shot a few days ago.

For more information on our flu vaccination findings, get in touch with us below.

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