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Flu Vaccine: What's Your Excuse?

Dec 14, 2011, 5:00 PM, Posted by NewPublicHealth

Last week was National Influenza Vaccination Week, and we learned that almost two-thirds of Americans still haven't gotten the flu shot (read the story here). NewPublicHealth asked Marie Fornof, RN, Infection Preventionist at National Jewish Health in Denver, for the top reasons people don’t get a flu shot, and for her best responses.

I-don’t-get-a-flu-shot excuse #1: I get the flu even when I get the shot.

Marie Fornof: Immunity is never 100 percent. You may have had another strain that was not part of the three strains included each year in the vaccine. It could also be another viral illness, or you may have been infected after the vaccination but before it became protective.

Excuse #2: The vaccine is not perfect.

Marie Fornof: True but it is the best that we currently have, and protects many people or often reduces the severity of the illness. Research is being done on a universal vaccine that may protect us against more strains and better ways of predicting exactly what will circulate. When epidemic influenza has been studied, those who were vaccinated and still got influenza tended to have fewer complications from the illness.

Excuse #3: The flu isn't that bad.

Marie Fornof: The flu is a very contagious disease that poses serious illness for pregnant women, young children, older adults and people with certain chronic conditions. If you get it you are usually sick for five to seven days. This is not just a bad cold for most of us.

Excuse #4: People are influenced by websites and blogs that do not provide factual information.

Marie Fornof: Try this one from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on three actions to take to fight the flu.

This commentary originally appeared on the RWJF New Public Health blog.