Almost half of all adults expect to get a flu shot next year

NEW YORK — A Harris Interactive poll released Tuesday found that 44% of all adults reported getting their flu shot this past season, the second time flu shot penetration has reached that high in four years, and even more are expected to get a flu shot next season. Almost half of consumers had reported getting the flu shot in the previous season in April 2011. The number of people claiming they've gotten a flu shot has remained at or around 40% since 2009, conceivably a fall-out from the 2009 H1N1, or "swine flu," virus. 

In comparison, only 27% of people reported getting inoculated in March of 2005. 

And as many as 14% of adults believed they had the flu last winter. That metric has remained below 14% for the past three years (11% reported having the flu in 2011 and 2012, and 12% in 2010). Prior to that, almost 1-in-5 people reported having got the flu most years. 

Because flu symptoms are sometimes confused with symptoms of other conditions, people who said they had had the flu were asked if they had visited a doctor who had diagnosed flu. Only 35% of those had flu shots and who also believe that they had the flu report that their flu was diagnosed by a doctor, a big drop from a high of between 55% and 60% across the two previous winters. 

For the upcoming 2013/2014 season, 47% of all adults suggested they would be getting a flu shot, compared to 40% who reported they would not get a flu shot and 13% who were unsure. Of those who had a flu shot for the 2012/2013 season, 90% plan to repeat this upcoming season. Of those who had not had a flu shot last year, 12% plan to get one this year. 

More than 9-in-10 adults reported getting a flu shot and subsequently not getting the flu. Of those who did not get a flu shot this past season, only 9% reported not getting the flu (73% reported getting the flu and 18% weren't sure). 

"There are two reasons to be careful when analyzing these data," noted Harris poll chairman Humphrey Taylor. "One is that the diagnosis, and particularly self-diagnosis, of the flu is not very reliable. Other infections can produce flu-like symptoms." This year's survey, similar to last year's survey, finds that about three fifths of these people are "certain" they had the flu (61%) and spent one or more days in bed (62%). 

"[And] the absence of a direct correlation between those who had flu shots and those who did not get the flu does not mean that the flu shots had no effect, because those who are more likely to get the flu may also be more likely to get flu shots," Taylor added.

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