Majority of Americans Believe Flu Vaccine is Effective

Approximately 65% of Americans would go to work if they were presenting flu-like symptoms.

A new survey indicates that a majority of patients planning to receive a flu vaccine believe it is the most effective way to prevent the flu. The annual survey includes more than 2000 adults and was conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of CVS Pharmacy.

Each year, it is recommended that individuals receive the flu vaccine to prevent potentially serious illness, especially among older and very young patients. Importantly, the flu vaccine is available at no cost under the Affordable Care Act for most health plans.

The survey showed that 61% of Americans receive the vaccine each year or are planning to get it in 2017, which is a 2% increase from 2016, according to a press release from CVS Health. Of these individuals, 67% believe that the vaccine is the best way to prevent the illness.

Notably, 65% of respondents indicated they would go to work even if they were presenting flu-like symptoms. These findings suggest that adults may be unknowingly at risk of the flu if their co-workers have the illness, which highlights the need for the annual vaccine.

Among patients who have received the vaccine, 44% indicate they visit their primary care provider (PCP) or a healthcare professional for the vaccine. The survey indicates that there was a 7% increase in respondents receiving the vaccine in their workplace, bringing the prevalence up to 22%, according to CVS.

"We recognize that staying on top of your health can sometimes be daunting, especially for busy families, and flu vaccinations are no exception to this," said Papatya Tankut, vice president of Pharmacy Affairs at CVS Health. "This year's survey demonstrates the increasing number of factors that go into deciding where, when, and how to get vaccinated, which is why CVS Pharmacy continues to strive to make healthcare quick, easy and accessible for patients."

The survey also found that women are 12% more likely to receive the vaccine from their PCP or another provider compared with men.

Approximately 76% of patients 65 years and older receive the flu vaccine yearly and/or plan to get the vaccine in 2017, according to the survey.

CVS also found that fall moths are popular times for the vaccine, with 36% administered in October.

Despite these positive findings, only 52% of Americans receive the vaccine. CVS notes that there has been an uptick of individuals who incorporate other methods of preventing the spread of germs, including regular use of hand sanitizer, drinking more water, taking vitamins, eating better, and engaging in physical activity.

"People may not realize that it can actually take up to 2 weeks for the flu vaccine to build immunity," said Angela Patterson, chief nurse practitioner officer at MinuteClinic. "For this reason, CVS Pharmacy actually recommends that patients get their flu shot as soon as the vaccine becomes available to ensure you have the best protection before flu season peaks. Additionally, influenza strains tend to change each year, so it's very important to get vaccinated every year to make sure you are protected."