Despite the attention surrounding last year’s outbreak of H1N1 flu, 43 percent of Americans say they will not be getting the vaccine this fall, according to a survey from the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID).
Another survey from the same group found a third of American mothers saying they have no plans to get a flu shot for their children.
Those decisions could come back to haunt Americans, experts said.
“Flu is serious. Every year millions of people get sick; more than 200,000 people are hospitalized and thousands of people die from influenza,” Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said during a Thursday morning press conference. In keeping with CDC guidelines, “everyone over the age of 6 months should get a flu shot,” he said.
Flu vaccination remains the best way to protect yourself against the illness, Frieden added.
“There is plenty of vaccine available,” he said. “This year we think that the three strains of influenza in the flu vaccine are going to be excellent matches with the flu that’s circulating.”
This year’s shot contains vaccine against the H1N1 pandemic flu that caused a major outbreak in the last flu season, Frieden noted.
“More than 119 million doses [of flu vaccine] have already been distributed in the United States. That’s more than 30 million more doses than were distributed by this time last year,” Dr. Daniel Jernigan, Deputy Director of CDC’s Influenza Division, said during the press conference.
However, as important as flu vaccine is, many people still don’t get vaccinated.
Flu expert Dr. Marc Siegel noted that many people who opt not to get a flu shot are falling prey to myths about the vaccine. “It’s all because of this nonsense that’s been circulating that somehow the flu shot is dangerous,” he said. “The fear of the vaccine outweighs the fear of the disease and that’s a huge mistake, because the disease is more dangerous than the vaccine.”…”