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Only Half of Kentucky Adults Received Flu Vaccine in Past Year

Dec 20, 2018

The holiday season is also prime season for flu, and data released today show that many Kentucky adults are not vaccinated as recommended. The 2018 Kentucky Health Issues poll, sponsored by Interact for Health and Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, found that when asked if they’d received a flu shot in the last 12 months, slightly more than 1 in 2 adults (54%) indicated that they had been vaccinated.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone age 6 months and older receive an annual flu vaccine.

KHIP found that adults ages 65 and older were the most likely to have been vaccinated, with 69% reporting having done so in the last year. Women were also more likely than men to get a flu shot, with 58% compared to 48%. 

“A case of flu in an otherwise healthy person might mean a few days off work or school curled up in bed. But for some, flu can lead to serious complications—including hospitalization or even death,” said O’dell Moreno Owens, M.D., M.P.H., President and CEO of Interact for Health. “We all need to do our part to prevent the spread of flu. That includes getting vaccinated and practicing simple steps to prevent the spread of disease—washing your hands, avoiding contact with people who are sick, and covering coughs and sneezes.”

Additional data from KHIP will be released in the coming weeks, with analysis provided on topics ranging from tobacco and e-cigarettes to health insurance and the Affordable Care Act. KHIP is a telephone survey that measures Kentucky adults’ opinions on health-related issues, and has been fielded annually since 2008. The survey is conducted by the Institute for Policy Research at the University of Cincinnati on behalf of Interact for Health and the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.

Misperceptions, perceived barriers common reasons for not getting vaccinated

For those adults who had not been vaccinated, KHIP asked for reasons why, with respondents being able to provide any answer.

Nearly 6 in 10 Kentucky adults (56%) who were not vaccinated shared a misconception about the flu vaccine as the reason for not receiving it. These included responses such as “I’m pretty healthy,” “I don’t think the flu shot is effective” and “I heard they can make you sick.”

Further, nearly 2 in 10 Kentucky adults (17%) said that a perceived barrier to accessing the vaccine was the reason they had not received it, which includes responses such as not knowing where to go, being unable to fit vaccination into their schedule and cost.

“An annual flu vaccine is the best tool in preventing the spread of the virus,” said Owens. “Data from the CDC show that vaccinations prevent millions of illnesses and doctors’ visits each year. And while it is possible for a vaccinated person to get the flu, in those instances, the illness is often milder, and less likely to result in severe complications or hospitalization. Flu vaccines are readily available from a variety of sources, and most people can get the shot for low or no cost.”

For information about flu vaccination, please contact your health care provider or local public health department. For updates on flu activity in Kentucky, visit https://healthalerts.ky.gov/Pages/FluActivity.aspx.  

About the Kentucky Health Issues Poll

The 2018 Kentucky Health Issues Poll was funded by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky and Interact for Health. It was conducted Aug. 26-Oct. 21, 2018, by the Institute for Policy Research at the University of Cincinnati. A random sample of 1,569 adults from throughout Kentucky was interviewed by telephone. This included 697 landline interviews and 872 interviews with cell phone users. In 95 of 100 cases, the statewide estimates will be accurate to ±2.5%. There are other sources of variation inherent in public opinion studies, such as nonresponse, question wording or context effects that can introduce error or bias. For more information about the Kentucky Health Issues Poll, please visit www.healthy-ky.org or www.interactforhealth.org/about-khip/.

About Interact for Health

Interact for Health is improving the health of all people in our region. We serve as a catalyst by promoting health equity through grants, education, research, policy and engagement. To amplify the impact of our work, Interact for Health focuses on three strategic priorities: reducing tobacco use, addressing the opioid epidemic and ensuring that children have access to health care through school-based health centers. We are an independent foundation that serves 20 counties in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana.

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