More than a third of Americans say they are worried that they or one of their family members will contract a seasonal respiratory virus like the flu, COVID-19 or RSV in the coming months, though vaccine enthusiasm appears to be middling at best.
The survey was conducted by the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania Oct. 5-12.
When participants were asked how worried they were that they or one of their family members would contract RSV, COVID or the flu in the next three months, 35 percent said they were worried about RSV and COVID, while 39 percent said they were worried about the flu to some degree.
However, getting vaccinated against these viruses appeared to be less of a concern for the participants of the survey. Only about a fifth — 21 percent — said they had gotten the season flu shot this season. The report noted this was lower than the percentage of people who had gotten vaccinated against the flu at the same time last year, which was 26 percent.
“Because getting a flu shot yearly not only helps to protect us from serious infection but also predicts our acceptance of other CDC-recommended vaccines, the drop in reported flu vaccination we see reflected in our panel is worrisome,” said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center.
According to the most recent estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the national flu coverage for adults in the U.S., including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, is at 34.8 percent.
Participants were also split when it came to preventive medicines against COVID-19 and RSV. When it came to the new COVID-19 shots, 44 percent said they were unlikely to get the shot compared to 40 percent who said they were likely to get it.
Only 8 percent said they had already received the shot, though the survey was conducted only a month after the start of the updated COVID-19 vaccine campaign, which experienced a few early bumps. During the first few weeks of the vaccine campaign, appointments became hard to come by in some areas and many people erroneously were told that their insurers were not covering the shot.
A recent survey from KFF found that half of adults said they do not plan to get the latest COVID-19 vaccine and only about 1 out of 5 said they have gotten it so far. About a quarter of adults, however, said while they haven’t gotten it yet, they do plan to get immunized.
An RSV vaccine for seniors was approved earlier this year and most participants — 55 percent — said they were likely to recommend that a friend or family member over the age of 60 speak to their health care provider about the medicine.
This same vaccine — Abrysvo — was also approved for administration in pregnant women so their newborn infants can be born with some protection against RSV in the first 6 months of life, when they are particularly vulnerable to severe infection.
Participants were split fairly evenly when asked if they would recommend a pregnant friend or family member get this vaccine, with 45 percent saying it was unlikely they would do so and 43 percent saying it was likely.
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