Solely 56 % of individuals intend to have free flu vaccination within the U.Ok. amid COVID
Amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, the northern hemisphere is rapidly approaching winter, which will increase influenza cases. Health experts urge people to get a flu shot.
The flu vaccination is an important way to relieve the burden on the health system, as more than ten months have passed since the onset of the severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the virus that causes COVID-19 disease .
While the first wave of the pandemic missed most of the flu season in Europe and the US, a second wave of COVID is likely to overlap the 2020-2021 season. Health systems are under significant stress during a typical flu season that would be exacerbated if COVID-19 cases increased this year.
Now a team of researchers from Keele University and Public Health England wanted to find out how many UK residents are planning to get a flu shot during the COVID-19 pandemic. The researchers found that 55.8 percent of people intended to get vaccinated.
The study, which was published as a preprint on the medRxiv * server, estimated the number of people willing to be vaccinated against influenza in preparation for winter.
The team recruited a nationally representative sample of 1,500 UK adults through Prolific’s online research panel. Participants were asked to take a survey that asked about sociodemographic profiles, clinical questions, COVID-19, and possible COVID-19 vaccinations.
About 645 participants are eligible for the vaccination. Of these, more than half said they intend to get flu vaccinations. Previous research suggests that increasing intake of the flu vaccine may help contain the COVID-19 outbreak. Hence, taking steps are vital in helping everyone achieve their intent.
The team also asked participants if they had had a flu shot the previous year and how likely it was that they would get a flu shot this year. Of the 514 eligible respondents who clearly had an intention to get a flu shot, 60.6 percent said they had the flu shot last winter, while 39.4 percent said they weren’t vaccinated.
The study results strongly suggest that those who received the flu vaccine the previous year are likely to intend to receive it again this year. However, vaccination intent among those eligible for the vaccine was higher than the intake reported last year. This may mean the uptake this year may be lower than those who said they intended to get the shots.
Hence, health authorities and governments must make efforts to convert positive intentions into behavior. Proper messaging, information dissemination, and vaccine delivery should ensure that these people receive the vaccine, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic has locked many people in their homes. Some people also fear going to hospitals or clinics to get a flu shot due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“A timely increase in the seasonal influenza vaccine will relieve the service. To be successful, strategies must now be implemented to achieve this increase, ”concluded the researchers in the study.
The flu season and COVID-19
The skyrocketing cases of COVID-19 around the world, especially in countries where the second wave of outbreaks have been reported, could affect health systems. Many hospitals are making maximum use of their bed capacity to accommodate coronavirus cases.
With the coming flu season, hospital admissions are expected to increase. With two diseases ravaging the world, hospitals may lack the staff and facilities to care for all patients. Therefore, prevention of influenza diseases, which can also lead to hospitalization in high-risk populations, is essential.
The flu vaccination in the UK is usually given from December to March of each year. The national vaccination program starts in September. Vaccination is free through the NHS for children between the ages of two and eleven, adults over 65, pregnant women, healthy workers, and those at high risk for flu complications.
* Important NOTE
medRxiv publishes preliminary scientific reports that are not peer-reviewed and, therefore, should not be considered conclusive, guide clinical practice / health-related behavior, or be treated as established information.