Why consumers avoid the flu jab

Disbelief that the flu vaccine works and “not getting around to it” are the top reasons why half of Australian adults won’t get a flu shot this year

A survey of 2,003 adults by finder.com.au has found that exactly 50% are not planning on having a flu vaccine this year – which could be extrapolated to 9.5 million people, Finder says.

The findings are similar to those provided earlier this year by the Pharmacy Guild, which found that only 45% of adults intend to have the jab this year.

Another survey, by the Immunisation Coalition, found that 44% of Australian adults planned to be vaccinated against influenza in 2018.

In the Finder survey, the two main reasons for not being vaccinated were “disbelief” and “not getting around to it”, cited by 14% of respondents.

Another 6% said they felt the vaccine was too expensive, despite it being available from as little as $10 at some pharmacies, and free through some workplaces.

The Finder survey also looked at attitudes towards the vaccine by demographic: 72% of baby boomers intend to be vaccinated this year, compared to only 39% of Generation Y.

But it’s Generation X who are least likely to believe in the efficacy of the vaccine, with 18% saying they “don’t believe in it,” compared to only 10% of Generation Z.

Victorians are the most likely group not to get around to being vaccinated, with 16% citing it as the most likely reason they won’t have the jab; only 11% of Western Australians are this disorganised, however.

In 2017, there were more than 249,000 laboratory confirmed influenza notifications made, and an estimated 29,000 hospital admissions with confirmed influenza between April and November.

Insurance expert and spokesperson for Finder Bessie Hassan warned that cases are already 19% up on the same period last year.  

“Winter hasn’t even begun but flu cases are already being contracted at higher rates than last year,” she said.

“Vaccinated adults provide herd immunity for others in the community but young children who can have poor hygiene habits are more likely to pass germs around.”

She told consumers that it’s worth approaching their workplace to see if they’ll subsidise the vaccine, if cost is a concern.

“Check whether you’re eligible for vaccinations through your health fund – for example, some HBF members are covered for flu vaccines administered at selected pharmacies,” she added.

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