Study: Minority Acceptance of Combo Flu-COVID Vaccine Higher Than COVID Alone

For the acceptance of a combination COVID-19 flu vaccine, the team asked participants whether they would be willing to take a combination COVID-19-flu vaccine as a single-shot every year.

New research has found that the acceptance of a combination influenza-COVID-19 vaccine among minority individuals is higher than for the COVID-19 vaccine alone. The results suggest that bundling COVID-19 vaccines or boosters with influenza vaccines may be a convenient option to increase future uptake of both vaccines among minorities, according to researchers from Penn State University.

“Millions of people in the United States remain unvaccinated to COVID-19 due to persistent vaccine hesitancy,” said Robert Lennon, MD, associate professor of family and community medicine, College of Medicine, Penn State, in a press release. “As new variants continue to emerge, hospitalizations and deaths will continue to have a disproportionate impact on minority individuals given historic disparities in health care access and quality. It is critical to improve access to and education about vaccines for these individuals.”

Further, Lennon said that some vaccine manufacturers have announced that they are pursuing the development of a combined COVID-19-influenza vaccine.

“This is important, because our research suggests that a combination vaccine may entice more minority individuals to get vaccinated than either the COVID-19 or influenza vaccine alone,” Lennon said in the press release.

The study was a collaboration between Penn State and the African American Research Collaborative, an organization dedicated to bringing an accurate understanding of African American civic engagement to the public discourse. The team developed a survey and conducted a national telephone and online poll of more than 12,887 US minority adults, including Latino/a/X, Black/African American, Asian American or Pacific Islander, Native American/American Indian, and White, from May 7 to June 7, 2021.

“Our goal was to determine the acceptability of a combination influenza-COVID-19 vaccine compared to influenza or COVID-19 vaccines alone in a nationally representative sample of US adults,” Lennon said in the press release. “This is the largest COVID-19 vaccine intention study that we know of; certainly, it’s the largest for underserved minorities.”

The team assessed acceptance of the seasonal flu vaccine alone by asking participants whether they planned to get the flu vaccine this year. To assess acceptance of an annual COVID-19 vaccine, participants were asked whether they would have an issue taking an annual COVID-19 vaccines, similar to the seasonal flu vaccine.

For the acceptance of a combination COVID-19 flu vaccine, the team asked participants whether they would be willing to take a combination COVID-19-flu vaccine as a single-shot every year.

The researchers found that 45% of respondents said that they have, will certainly, or will most likely get a COVID-19 vaccine, whereas 58% said they would get an influenza vaccine. For a combination influenza-COVID-19 vaccine, overall acceptance was 50%, according to the press release.

“It is interesting that acceptance was higher for the combination vaccine than for the COVID-19 vaccine,” said Ray Block, Brown-McCourtney Career Development Professor in the McCourtney Institute and associate professor of political science and African American studies, Penn State, in the press release. “This may be due to the convenience of getting two vaccines in one visit or even concern over increased exposure during two visits compared to one. I think we could get some people who are hesitant to consider getting vaccinated if they know they can do them both at the same time.”

Block noted that another explanation for the finding that more people would be willing to get a combination vaccine than a COVID-19 vaccine alone could be that the long history of influenza vaccine safety helped to reduce some participants’ concerns over the newness of the COVID-19 booster.

“The fact that approximately half of the population we surveyed said they were willing to accept a combination vaccine suggests that bundling COVID-19 boosters with the highly accepted influenza vaccines may be a convenient option to increase uptake of vaccines among minorities,” Lennon said in the press release. “An optimal approach may be to offer a combination vaccine first, and if refused, offer individual influenza or COVID-19 boosters to accommodate those who will accept only one.”

REFERENCE

Minority acceptance of combo flu-COVID vaccine higher than for COVID alone. Penn State. January 11, 2022.Accessed January 12, 2022. https://www.psu.edu/news/story/minority-acceptance-combo-flu-covid-vaccine-higher-covid-alone/