According to a survey commissioned by the American Academy of Family Physicians, certain groups, including millennials and African Americans, are more susceptible to anti-vaccination rhetoric and beliefs, with 51% of Americans reporting they have not received a flu shot this season. In addition, nearly one-third of adults who completed the survey do not plan on getting a flu shot. 1

Millennials were reported to be the least likely to get vaccinated, with 55% reporting that they have not gotten a flu shot and 33% not planning on getting the shot at all. More than 3 out of 5 millennials who are familiar with the anti-vaccination movement said that they are in agreement with some anti-vaccination beliefs.1

When asked why they were not planning on receiving a flu shot, 25% of millennials reported that they do not have the time to do so, compared with 12% of Generation X and 6% of baby boomers who responded the same way. Furthermore, the millennial age group was found to be twice as likely to forget about getting vaccinated compared with the older generations surveyed. 1

Eighty-six percent of millennial respondents got at least 1 fact wrong when asked about the flu, whereas 31% of the respondents got every single question wrong. Even with these results, socially conscious millennials are more likely to believe in the efficacy of the flu shot, according to the survey. Seventy-six percent said that the flu shot is effective and 83% agree that the flu shot helps protect those around them.1

Another group that showed alarming results in the survey were African Americans, who were more likely to self-report that they agree with anti-vaccination rhetoric. However, African Americans were shown to be the least familiar with the anti-vaccination movement, with only 45% reporting familiarity compared with 59% of Hispanic Americans and 53% among Asian Americans. 1

When analyzing the knowledge of the flu in African Americans, 89% got at least 1 fact wrong and 36% got all of them wrong. As reported in millennials, the African American group surveyed had the lowest vaccination rate compared with other ethnic groups—55% have not yet received a flu shot this season and 34% do not plan on getting one.1

Out of every group, Asian Americans were the most informed about and supportive of flu shots, with nearly 9 in 10 agreeing that getting the flu shot helps protect those around them. This group also had the highest vaccination rates, with 78% having reported ever receiving a flu shot and 56% receiving a flu shot every year. 1

Parents tend to fall victim to myths and misinformation about flu vaccinations, with 3 out of 5 indicating that their child has missed a flu shot at least once due to these factors. Additionally, 21% of parents said they did not want their child to get sick from the flu shot and 10% indicated that the flu is not a serious matter.1

As reported by the CDC, 4800 total flu-related deaths, including 32 pediatric deaths, have occurred during the 2019-2020 flu season. Last season, the CDC estimated 116 children died from the flu.1,2

"Parents are responsible for their children's health and safety so it's imperative that they understand the dangers of the flu," said Alexa Mieses, MD, a practicing family physician, in a prepared statement. "It's concerning to see that parents are misinformed, thinking the flu shot can give their children the flu or that they don't need it. Parents don't appear to be against immunizations though—they simply don't view the flu vaccine with equal importance as lifetime vaccines. We need to make sure they understand the seriousness of the flu so they can protect and immunize their children and themselves."1

Mieses recommends everyone to get a flu shot to avoid getting the flu, especially those 65 and older, children younger than 2 years old, and pregnant women. In addition, talking to your physician about flu facts to debunk any myths and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can lower your risk of getting sick during flu season. 1


REFERENCES
 
  1. New survey finds millennials least likely to get flu shot, most likely to agree with some anti-vaccination beliefs [news release]. Leawood, KS; PR Newswire: January 16, 2020. https://prnmedia.prnewswire.com/news-releases/new-survey-finds-millennials-least-likely-to-get-flu-shot-most-likely-to-agree-with-some-anti-vaccination-beliefs-300987680.html. Accessed January 20, 2020.
  2. Murphy, Jill. US Flu Activity Still High Despite Recent Dip. https://www.pharmacytimes.com/news/flu-activity-in-us-still-high-despite-recent-dip. Published January 14, 2020. Accessed January 20, 2020.