Survey: 1-in-5 Americans got their flu shots at a retail pharmacy

WASHINGTON — Most Americans who reported getting a flu shot in the past season received that vaccination in their physician's office. However, about 20% received their flu shot at a retail pharmacy and 12.6% at a walk-in clinic, according to an Ipsos Public Affairs poll released Friday. That suggests that as many as 18.5 million flu shots were administered to adults at retail pharmacy and another 11.7 million to adults at walk-in clinics. 

Other methods of flu prevention — washing hands (84%) and the use of hand sanitizer (68%), for example — were rated more effective than the flu vaccine (56%). Eating healthy in general (60%) or taking vitamins and supplements (53%) were also identified as popular flu-prevention strategies. Since perceived effectiveness of flu vaccination does not differentiate it from other ways of preventing the flu, some individuals may have relied on these alternatives to prevent flu instead of vaccination, Ipsos suggested. 

The majority of Americans believed the likelihood that they would be sidelined by the flu this season was unlikely — only one in three were concerned about catching the flu. As many as 16% of Americans thought that vaccines were not safe and slightly over a third of Americans thought that one can could catch flu from the flu shot. Vaccine safety and adverse effects concerns were most prominent in individuals across the highest income brackets of more than $150,000 per year. 

The overall vaccination rate was 40%, Ipsos reported, which is in accord with government statistics. An additional 5% reported they were still thinking about getting a flu shot as of mid-January. The vaccination rate reached 50% only among individuals 50 years of age and older. Interestingly, the vaccination rate of 18 to 24 year olds is higher than any other under 50 group, Ipsos noted, perhaps due to efforts to encourage vaccination on college campuses.

The Ipsos poll was conducted from Jan. 11-15, 2013. The sample comprised 1,096 Americans over 18 who were interviewed online.

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