The U.S. is currently battling the worst flu epidemic it has seen in nearly a decade and, what’s worse, this year’s flu vaccine is weak against the H3N2, a peculiar but resilient strain of the Influenza A virus that has been prevalent this flu season.
Americans have long doubted the potency of the flu shot. A survey from The Harris Poll in 2015 showed that almost one third of all adults (32%) did not think that having a flu shot will help them avoid getting the flu. In fact, less than half (43%) of Americans agreed strongly that flu shots will help them avoid the illness. This 2017-2018 flu season their skepticism is well warranted.
97 children have died so far and, according to a recent report from the Center for Disease Control, Americans have been hospitalized for the illness at a rate of 59.9 per 100,000; the hospitalization rates are uncommonly high among adults ages 50 to 64.
Furthermore, this year’s flu vaccines are about 25% less effective at preventing illnesses caused by the prominent virus behind this season’s epidemic, the CDC reported.
Another potential reason for the scale of the virus’s impact is that Americans don’t perceive the flu as a major health risk. Our 2015 poll also showed how people react to the disease when afflicted. Over eight in ten (81%) adults “just want to be left alone.” While 66% try to “tough it out” and keep going to work, contrary to CDC recommendations that those sick with flu-like symptoms stay home and avoid human contact.