Why are flu vaccination rates so low? Lori Uscher-Pines, a policy researcher at the RAND Corp., estimates that part of the issue has to do with no consequences for not getting vaccinated (well, except for coming down with the flu). Unlike childhood vaccines, which are generally required to start a school year, employers don’t stop their workers’ from coming to work if they cannot prove flu immunization.
“Children have regular encounters like well child visits where they get vaccinated,” she said. “There’s a constant contact with the health-care system.”
Americans also tend to have negative perceptions about the flu vaccine. A study Uscher-Pines did in 2011 found that about half of those who did not get vaccinated agreed with statements such as “I don’t need it” or “I don’t believe in flu vaccines.”
This year’s flu vaccine is 62 percent effective, meaning that those who receive the vaccination are 62 percent less likely to develop the flu than those who don’t. That does leave space for someone who receives the vaccine to become sick but, as public health officials would argue, gives them better odds than an individual without any protection at all.
Why 64.8 percent of Americans didn’t get a flu shot