February 12, 2020
2 min read

AAFP survey: Flu shot uptake among millennials is poor

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Margot Savoy
Margaret Savoy

Citing a lack of time and forgetfulness, 55% of millennials did not get the influenza vaccine this year, according to a recent survey of 1,000 adults that was commissioned by the American Academy of Family Physicians.

Margaret Savoy, MD, an AAFP board member and family physician in Philadelphia, said the influenza vaccine’s wide availability may partially explain the limited uptake.

“Because anyone can get the flu shot anywhere, it’s easy for people to think ‘well, I’ll just get it next time.’ But then getting a flu shot falls off their to-do list.”

Another reason for the limited uptake likely involves the debunked myth that the influenza vaccine can make people sick, according to Savoy.

“I suspect that what many millennials mean when they say they don’t have time to get a flu shot is that they don’t have time to be sick from getting the shot,” she said. “Like other age groups, millennials still wrongly believe the flu shot is going to give them the flu and have them down for days after the injection.”

Source: AAFP. New survey finds millennials least likely to get flu shot, most likely to agree with some anti-vaccination beliefs.

Increasing uptake

Allowing patients to schedule their influenza vaccination online or not requiring them to make an appointment to get one might increase uptake among millennials, Savoy said.

“Walk-in visits for influenza vaccine have been helpful in our practice,” she said. “Tell patients that they can just show up to get a flu shot. Tell them to pick a date and book it on their calendar with a reminder. Physicians should consider extending office hours so that patients can come by before or after work or on a lunch break.”

Savoy added that physicians who tell patients about their own personal influenza vaccine experience can help dispel myths that lead to vaccine hesitancy.

“Peer story sharing, either in person or online — and telling the truth as you do — is powerful,” she explained. “I admit to my patients that, ‘Yes, the flu shot will make your arm sore and makes you feel a little tired.’ I tell my patients that since I don’t like to feel less than 100% at work, I get the flu shot on a Friday when I’m not on call or working the weekend. I also tell them how the one year I didn’t get a flu shot I caught the flu and have never been so sick before or since.” – by Janel Miller


AAFP. New survey finds millennials least likely to get flu shot, most likely to agree with some anti-vaccination beliefs. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/new-survey-finds-millennials-least-likely-to-get-flu-shot-most-likely-to-agree-with-some-anti-vaccination-beliefs-300987680.html. Accessed Feb. 4, 2020.

Disclosure: Savoy reports no relevant financial disclosures.