4 Flu Prevention Strategies Patients View as More Important Than Vaccination

Pharmacists have more work to do to educate patients on the importance and efficacy of flu vaccination, a new poll reveals.

Pharmacists have more work to do to educate patients on the importance and efficacy of flu vaccination, a new poll reveals.

Harris Poll recently released the results of a survey involving 2225 adults who were asked about flu prevention strategies from October 14, 2015, to October 19, 2015.

Alarmingly, nearly one-third of the adults did not believe that getting a flu shot would help them avoid the flu. In fact, fewer than half said they “strongly agreed” that vaccination would help prevent them from getting the flu.

Here are the 4 preventive measures that most Americans believe will prevent the flu, more so than the flu vaccine:

1. Handwashing (almost 70% said they strongly agreed this would help them avoid the flu)

2. Rest (63%)

3. A healthy diet (54%)

4. Appropriate clothes for the weather (48%)

After these measures, around 43% of the adults surveyed said they strongly agree that the flu vaccine will help them avoid the flu, followed by vitamins (37%) and hand sanitizer (37%). Harris Poll noted that many of the participants cited they “somewhat” believed in the usefulness of all of these prevention tactics.

One promising finding from the study was that those aged 70 years or older—a patient population prone to flu-related hospitalization—were most likely to believe in the flu vaccine’s efficacy. In light of this, pharmacists may want to promote the flu vaccine more to Millennials, since they were the least likely group to believe in the efficacy of the flu vaccine (33% versus 35% of Generation X individuals, 47% of baby boomers, and 75% of the more mature generation).

Nearly 20% of the adults surveyed strongly believed in the powers of homeopathic remedies.

Additional findings from the survey respondents include:

· 66% keep going to work even if they are sick

· 51% limit contact with children during flu season

· 35% avoid public transportation

· 42% believe that the public takes flu season too seriously

· 32% believe doors and door knobs carry the most germs

-19% cited phones

-5% cited toilets and toilet handles

-4% cited remote controls

-4% cited sponges

-4% cited money

Pharmacists may be interested to learn the OTC products that patients are most interested in during flu season:

· Tissues (75%)

· Hand soap (64%)

· Cough drops (58%)

· Cold medicine (52%)

· Pain relievers (53%)

· Vitamin C (51%)

When patients do have the flu, around 20% said they take OTC products like aspirin, ibuprofen, or acetaminophen when they have any temperature above normal. Meanwhile, 21% said they treat their fever if they have a temperature between 100 degrees and 100.9 degrees, 24% treat themselves when they have a temperature between 101 degrees and 101.9 degrees, and 13% said they do not use these medications at all.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) believes this year’s flu vaccine will be more effective than last year’s.

In a press conference in September 2015, CDC director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, encouraged patients to start getting vaccinated, since it is the most effective way to avoid getting sick. He also stressed that sick patients should stay home from work.

“The flu is unpredictable, but you can predict that the single best thing you can do is get a flu vaccine,” Dr. Frieden said. “Make it the norm to get the flu vaccine this year and every year, just as I do.”