The news out today warns that more than half of adults have no intention of getting a flu shot. It's based on a Rand survey of 4,000 U.S. adults that shows the following:
- Fifty-three percent of all adults surveyed have no intention of getting the flu vaccine this year, while 17 percent say they haven't yet but will at some point.
- Seventy percent of healthy adults under age 50 have no intention of being vaccinated, while 16 percent say they will at some point but haven't yet.
Public-health experts are up in arms, saying that it's a poor grade on our nation's health report card. Yet, I'm not quite sure what the brouhaha is about. After all, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention doesn't recommend flu vaccines for all healthy adults—only those over age 50 or others who are at risk of complications from influenza because they, say, have a compromised immune system, diabetes, or lung problems like asthma.
Certainly, many people who really need the vaccine—like the elderly, since they're most likely to die from flu—should make every effort to get it. But the rest of us? I'm not so sure. The vaccine, at best, is 75 percent effective. And last year's batch was even less effective because experts incorrectly predicted which flu strain would hit the United States. In fact, several of the kids who died from the flu last year had been vaccinated.
Bottom line: All adults should consider getting vaccinated against the flu, but unless they're at particular risk, they shouldn't worry if they don't. What's more, while vaccines are extremely safe, they all carry a small but real risk of side effects. Here's what you need to know about vaccine risks and making vaccines safer, along with a guide for managing vaccinations in kids.