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40 Percent of Adults Aren't Getting Flu Vaccine

Fear of side effects and doubts about potency lead many to skip it

A syringe injected into a vial

Karl Tapales/Getty Images

On the heels of the worst flu outbreak in the country in decades, 2 in 5 adult Americans do not plan to get the flu vaccine this season, according to a recent survey.

NORC at the University of Chicago reported that 41 percent of adults, citing a number of reasons including fear of side effects and doubt that the vaccine will work, do not intend to be vaccinated. As of the beginning of December, 43 percent have been vaccinated and an additional 14 percent plan to do so this season.

Broken down by age, the survey found people over 60 reported a relatively high rate of vaccination (62 percent), though 24 percent are reluctant. About half of adults under age 45 don’t plan to receive the shot.


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A variety of reasons were offered for not getting the vaccine. A little more than one-third of respondents — 36 percent — say they are concerned about side effects, and 31 percent worry about getting sick. The same percentage say they “never get the flu” or think the vaccine doesn’t work. Few cite cost (6 percent) or not having enough time to get it (5 percent).

Despite vaccine clinics in schools, workplaces and other public venues, “unfortunately, many people are still not getting flu shots due to broader misconceptions about the value of receiving a flu shot and concerns about the safety and efficacy of the vaccines,” said Caitlin Oppenheimer, senior vice president of public health research at NORC.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) highly recommends the flu shot for virtually all adults.

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