Survey Shows Flu Vaccination This Season Likely Highest Ever

March 4, 2021
Jill Murphy, Associate Editor

According to findings from a December 2020 national survey, more US adults reported receiving or planning to receive an influenza vaccination during the 2020-2021 flu season than ever before.

According to findings from a December 2020 national survey, more US adults reported receiving or planning to receive an influenza vaccination during the 2020-2021 flu season than ever before.

Conducted by the University of Georgia (UGA), the survey of 1027 adults found that 43.5% of respondents reported having already received a flu vaccination, with an additional 13.5% stating they “definitely will get one” and 9.3% stating they “probably will get one.” Combined, 66.3% have received or intended to receive influenza vaccination, according to the press release.

In comparison, 48.4% of adults 18 years of age and older received the vaccine during the 2019-2020 flu season, which is an increase of 3.1% points from 2018-2019, according to the CDC.

The survey respondents came from the National Opinion Research Center’s AmeriSpeak panel, which uses a prescreened, nationally representative pool of participants to obtain rapid and projectable survey findings.

“Our survey shows that most Americans have or planned to act on the advice to get a flu vaccination this season,” said director of UGA’s Center for Health and Risk Communication (CHRC) Glen Nowak, in a press release. “Further, these results strongly suggest the US will be crossing an important threshold this flu season, which is over half of US adults getting a flu vaccination.”

The survey results indicate much of the increase in flu vaccine uptake is being driven by people 60 years of age and older. A total of 61.5% said they had already received the influenza vaccine in December, with another 12% stating they “would definitely get it” and 5.8% stating they “would probably get it.”

The results also implied many demographic differences when it came to having received a flu vaccination, according to the study authors. The results showed 48% of white respondents reported having a flu vaccination by December, compared to 35.1% of Hispanic respondents and 30.1% of Black respondents. Having already received flu vaccination was also much higher for respondents with a college or higher education and those with annual household incomes of $75,000 a year or more, according to the study.

On the other hand, flu vaccination uptake and plans to get a flu vaccination were lowest for the 18 to 29 years of age group, those with some college or a high school education, and those with annual incomes less than $25,000. The survey found that 50.7% of those making more than $75,000 had already been vaccinated for the flu, whereas only 35% of those making less than $25,000 had been vaccinated.

“It was disappointing to see that significant differences by race, age, education and income persisted during a flu vaccination season that took place during a COVID pandemic,” said CHRC research director Michael Cacciatore in a press release. “It’s important that we continue to learn more about why these disparities exist so we can take steps that will reduce them.”

Nowak added that overall, it is a positive trend to see that many people, particularly those at the highest risk for serious flu or COVID-19 illness, following the advice to get the flu vaccine.

“Hopefully, we can sustain that level of success in the years ahead,” Nowak said in a press release. “It also remains worrisome to find much lower flu vaccination rates and intentions in so many groups. We continue to have much work to do among Hispanic and Black adults and those with lower income and years of formal education when it comes to flu vaccination.”

REFERENCE
Flu vaccination this season likely to be highest ever. UGA Today. https://news.uga.edu/flu-vaccination-this-season-likely-highest-ever/. Published February 24, 2021. Accessed February 26, 2021.