CivicScience | Flu Shot Intent Up in 2020, But Vaccine Hesitancy Continues to Rise

Healthcare

Flu Shot Intent Up in 2020, But Vaccine Hesitancy Continues to Rise

Image Credit: Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

As health officials warn of a twin pandemic with flu season approaching during the first global pandemic in a century, new flu shot intent data looks promising.

According to a CivicScience survey that ran through September 10, 9% of Americans have already gotten a flu shot this year, with another 57% reporting they plan to. Only 26% say they won’t get one, and another 9% aren’t sure.

Rebasing this, excluding those ‘not sure’ and combining people with plans to and those who have received their shot already into one group, we see that year over year, flu shot intent is up. This comes as a relief to vaccine advocates’ clarion call that a flu shot is even more imperative this year.

While growth in intent has increased among all age groups, it looks like it’s driven the most by the youngest adults, and those in the 45-54-year-old age bucket.

Flu Shot Location

Like last year, most will opt to get their shot at a pharmacy or doctor’s office this year. However, pharmacy as an intended flu shot location is up substantially this year. Last year, only 36% said they would go to a pharmacy to receive theirs. This figure is at 44% this flu season. Many pharmacies offer a free flu vaccine, so it appears the word is out. We also notice a decline in the percentage who answered ‘elsewhere.’ Often, flu shot clinics are offered at workplaces, which are much more vacant this year due to the pandemic.

Of note: among those who already received their flu shot this year, 69% report having done so at a pharmacy, proof that this option is appealing.

On the topic of workplace, and how one’s job was impacted by the pandemic, remote workers are more likely than non-remote workers to have plans to or to have already gotten their flu shot.

While this may intuitively make sense to correlate with income, it does not. Income does not really play a factor in overall likelihood to be vaccinated this year.

Intersection Between Flu and COVID Vaccines

A big topic: when will a coronavirus vaccine be developed and released? Just because people will get a flu shot, it doesn’t mean they feel good about getting a future coronavirus vaccination. The variances are clear in the chart below. Though the majority (69%) of flu shot intenders this year would get the COVID-19 vaccine, 19% of them aren’t sure what they would do.

While on that topic, overall buy-in for a future COVID vaccine continues to fall with the Q3 percentage dropping to 57% this quarter from 66% in Q2.

Even more of a nosedive is the percentage of people who say they would get it as soon as they could. Only 28% say they would get it as soon as they can, a sixteen-percentage-point drop from 45% in Q2.

Vaccine hesitancy continues to rise on a macro level, with the percentage of people who say they’re very comfortable overall with vaccines continuing to decline, and those ‘uncomfortable’ rising. It’s clear that uncertainty about a coronavirus vaccine, whether or not it is being sped up, and its potential effectiveness (and safety) is driving the overall sentiment about vaccines down.

While the flu shot data is promising as we enter a season of two looming viruses, it’s clear that overall, Americans are not confident in an impending vaccine for coronavirus, and are feeling increasingly uncomfortable about vaccinations at large. 

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