According to new survey data from the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID), 44% of U.S. adults are unsure or do not plan to get the flu vaccine during the 2021-2022 flu season. The results also showed nearly 1 in 4 (23%) of people at high risk for flu-related complications, such as pregnant women, did not plan to get vaccinated.
Representatives from NFID and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) held a press conference yesterday to discuss the findings and encourage everyone 6 months or older to receive the annual flu vaccine.1
“Pregnant women are at risk for severe influenza infection, which means a greater risk for hospitalization, ICU admission, and death,” said Laura E. Riley, MD, obstetrician and gynecologist-in-chief at New York Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center and chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Weill Cornell Medical Center, New York City, New York.
“Nearly half of pregnant women and their infants remain unprotected against the flu,” Riley said.2 Survey results showed a coverage rate of 55% among pregnant women, similar to the prior season.
“An important effect of the vaccine when given during pregnancy is that maternal antibodies to influenza cross the placenta and provide protection for the neonate in the first few months of life, when the baby is at high risk for severe disease and is not eligible for its vaccination,” Riley told Contemporary OB/GYN®.
NFID’s annual survey collected information on attitudes and behaviors around flu, pneumococcal disease, and COVID-19 for the 2020 to 2021 flu season.1 Results showed that, in adults 65 and older or those at higher risk for pneumococcal disease, 51% are not familiar with pneumococcal disease. More startling, is that only about one-third (32%) of respondents reported being advised to get vaccinated against pneumococcal disease.
Racial and ethnic disparities in flu vaccine uptake were evident, with Hispanic adults (52%) and Black adults (45%) more likely to be worried about contracting both COVID-19 and the flu at the same time compared to White adults (27%).
“Given the risk of the disease, the clear benefit of vaccination and the ample safety data makes it a no-brainer in terms of what needs to happen,” Riley said.