During the 2022 National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) briefing yesterday, officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and NFID shared a new survey, which showed only 49% of US adults plan to get a flu vaccine during the 2022-2023 flu season, despite experts warning this year's season may be severe.
Only 20% of Americans surveyed said they were worried about the flu, compared to 34% who said they were worried about COVID-19. Still, 69% of those surveyed said a flu shot was the best way to protect against flu-related hospitalizations.
The information was presented during a kickoff event with public health leaders urging every American 6 months and older to get the flu shot.
"With a potentially challenging flu season ahead, I urge everyone to protect themselves and their families from flu and its potentially serious complications," said CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, MPH. "Schedule your flu vaccine today."
Of note was the finding only 32% of adults surveyed felt confident getting the flu vaccine at the same time as the COVID-19 booster, which suggests more healthcare providers need to emphasize the safety of vaccine co-administration.
"These survey data are concerning. The updated COVID-19 boosters are safe and convenient to get at the same time as a flu vaccine," said NFID President Patricia A. Stinchfield, RN, MS, CPNP. "Flu season is also a great time to make sure you are up to date on pneumococcal vaccination because pneumococcal disease can be a serious complication of flu."
CDC estimates 51% of US population got flu shot last year
Last year, the CDC estimates 51% of Americans 6 months and older got the flu shot, a similar percentage seen in the 2020-2021 season. Among adults, flu shot uptake increased with age, with 37% of adults ages 18 to 49 years getting the shot, 52% for adults age 50 to 64 years, and 74% for adults ages 65 years and older.
For kids ages 6 months to 17 years, flu vaccination coverage was 58% for the 2021-2022 flu season, down from 64% during the 2019-2020 season.
Less than 50% of pregnant women, a group deemed high risk for flu complications, received the flu shot last year.
The CDC also released flu burden estimates for the 2021-2022 flu season, noting that it was similar to the 2011-2012 season, with 9 million infections, 4 million clinic visits, 100,000 hospitalizations, and 5,000 deaths.
"Older adults accounted for 83% of deaths, which is similar to recent seasons before the COVID-19 pandemic," the CDC said. "These findings continue to highlight the fact that older adults are particularly vulnerable to severe disease with influenza virus infection and that influenza prevention measures such as vaccination are important to reducing the impact of the seasonal epidemics on the population and healthcare system."