Although the public had been alerted that this winter could be a potentially bad flu season, barely half of Americans said in January that they had received a flu shot, a vaccination level unchanged in a representative national panel from the comparable period last year, according to the latest Annenberg Science Knowledge (ASK) survey by the Annenberg Public Policy Center.
The panel survey, fielded with over 1,600 U.S. adults, finds that many have a base of knowledge about the flu but there is a reservoir of uncertainty about other consequential information about the flu, COVID-19, and vaccination. Among the findings, which also inquired more broadly about attitudes toward vaccine mandates and the continuing “return to normal,” nearly half of Americans do not know it is safe to get a flu shot during pregnancy. Over half of Americans say the Army should be able to require COVID-19 vaccination for soldiers who do not have a medical or religious exemption—and 45% say public schools should be able to require COVID-19 vaccination of all children who do not have a medical or religious exemption. More than half of Americans now say their lives have returned to a pre-pandemic normal.
“Although the CDC indicated that seasonal flu activity is now low nationally, the fact that the level of reported flu vaccination in our panel was roughly the same in January of this year as a year before is concerning,” says Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center. “Because this has been a more severe flu season than the one a year ago, we expected an increase in the reported vaccination rate.”
The ASK survey in January 2023 finds that 49% of respondents say they have had a seasonal flu shot, statistically unchanged from 47% in our January 2022 survey and 50% in April 2021. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 46% of U.S. adults 18 and older had a flu shot as of December 31, 2022.
The CDC actively promoted flu vaccination amid concerns that the 2022-23 season would be severe.
When the 49% of survey respondents who said they got the flu vaccine were asked in January why they got the shot, 69% said I get it every year. 64% said to protect myself against catching the flu, while 8% said to protect myself against COVID-19.
About a third of those surveyed say they are somewhat or very worried about family members contracting COVID-19, the seasonal flu, or RSV. Only 11% say they are somewhat/very worried about a family member contracting polio, which reemerged as a public health threat in July 2022 after a case was reported in New York State.
Asked when they expect to be able to return to “your normal, pre-COVID-19 life,” more than half of Americans say they already have, up from 47% in October 2022. More than 1 in 5 Americans continue to say “never,” which is statistically unchanged since July 2022.
Read more at Annenberg Public Policy Center.