CVS/pharmacy survey: Half of consumers say they won't get a flu shot

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — More than half of consumers say they do not plan to get a flu shot this season, according to a recent survey conducted by CVS/pharmacy.

Despite recommendations from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention that everyone 6 months or older get a flu vaccine every year, just over half (51%) of the respondents say they do not plan to get a flu shot this season. The top reasons consumers cited in the survey for not getting vaccinated are being worried about potential side effects of a flu shot and not being sure that flu shots are effective.

However, the CDC recommends an annual flu vaccine as the first and best way to protect against influenza. Also, the flu shot cannot give people the flu because the viruses used in the vaccine are inactivated. Possible minor side effects include soreness, redness or swelling where the shot was given or a low-grade fever that usually lasts one to two days. Almost all people who receive a flu shot have no serious problems from it, the company stated.

"The benefits of receiving a flu shot far outweigh possible minor side effects," stated Papatya Tankut, VP pharmacy professional services at CVS/pharmacy. "Influenza causes between 3,600 to 49,000 deaths and 200,000 hospitalizations in the United States annually. Receiving a flu shot can reduce the chance of becoming infected by up to 70%."

Another key finding from the CVS/pharmacy survey is that convenience is a major driver in a consumer's decision about where to get their flu shot. Among respondents who received a flu shot last season, 35% cited convenience as their top reason in choosing a location to get vaccinated, and more than two-thirds (67%) of those who received a flu shot at CVS/pharmacy said convenience was their top reason for choosing CVS/pharmacy.

CVS/pharmacy continues to provide convenient access to flu vaccinations this season. More than 7,300 CVS/pharmacy stores and nearly 600 MinuteClinic walk-in medical clinics inside select CVS locations provide flu shots every day, including evenings and weekends, no appointment needed.

Respondents to the CVS/pharmacy survey also indicated that health insurance is an important factor in their decision to get a flu shot, with 72% of respondents saying the ability to use insurance coverage for their flu shot was one of their top three factors and 44% of respondents saying that health insurance was their top factor.

CVS/pharmacy and MinuteClinic accept many health plans, including Medicare Part B and Tricare, which typically cover the full cost of a flu shot. Direct medical billing for many national and regional health plans that cover all or part of the cost of a flu shot is also available, the company stated. 

This flu season, customers will receive a 20%-off CVS/pharmacy shopping pass when they get a flu shot at CVS or MinuteClinic. The shopping pass can be used with CVS/pharmacy's ExtraCare card to save 20% off nonpharmacy purchases up to $100.

In addition to the regular seasonal flu shot, CVS/pharmacy and MinuteClinic will offer patients the option to receive Fluzone High-Dose or Fluzone Intradermal vaccine at CVS/pharmacy or MinuteClinic this season. The High-Dose vaccine contains four times the antigens as the seasonal flu vaccine. It is intended for people 65 years and older to provide better protection for this age group, who are at greater risk of developing severe illness from the flu. The intradermal vaccine is approved for patients ages 18 to 64 years and has a 90% smaller needle than the regular flu shot. It injects the vaccine just under the skin instead of into the muscle.

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