Why are more people lining up to get the flu shot than the coronavirus vaccine?

Why are more people lining up to get the flu shot than the coronavirus vaccine?

This is an excerpt from an investigation by STAT, the Globe’s partner health and medical news site. For a full version of this story and related coverage, visit STAT.

America is done with the Covid vaccine.

The frenetic lineups for scarce doses when Covid vaccines first became available have long since given way to widespread apathy. Each new round of boosters attracted fewer exposed arms than the one before it. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that as of Jan. 6, only 21.5% of Americans ages 18 and older and 11% of children have been vaccinated with the latest coronavirus vaccine.

But before you write off that number as a reflection of vaccine hesitancy in general, consider this: 46.7% of Americans ages 18 and older and 47.5% of children have been vaccinated against influenza this cold and flu season. As for older people, who are most at risk of contracting Covid, the gap is even wider; 73% of people 65 and older have gotten a flu shot, but only 41% have taken a COVID vaccine.

Why the disparity? Americans who get the flu shot regularly are just the kind of people you’d expect to be routinely vaccinated against Covid. However, as statistics reveal, many of them appear to have rejected the latest booster dose.

It is not clear that there is one definitive answer; In fact, there are likely a range of explanations, say people who study vaccine acceptance and vaccine hesitancy. They view this group as a missed opportunity and as a group that can be influenced.

Jason Schwartz, an associate professor of health policy at Yale School of Public Health, called people vaccinated against influenza “the lowest hanging fruit for increased uptake of the COVID vaccine.”

“These are people who are correctly signaling through their actions that they support vaccines in general and that they support the idea of ​​annual vaccination efforts, even (with) a vaccine that is known to be less than perfect.” said Schwartz, who specializes in vaccine policy. “And the fact that these individuals are more or less voting with their feet by … transmitting COVID is a real warning sign that goes beyond all the other issues that these vaccination efforts face.”

Experts STAT spoke with on the issue expressed little surprise at the gap between acceptance rates for the flu shot and the Covid vaccine. While there are a surprising number of similarities between the two vaccines — similarities that health authorities might be well advised to highlight more in their promotional efforts for Covid vaccines, some experts say — there are also stubborn differences.

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