In this year’s annual survey on flu vaccine trends, InCrowd gauged what medical professionals think of flu vaccine trends as we head into another flu season. The sample consisted of 200 US primary care and internal medicine physicians who administer the flu vaccine. The survey asked physicians why they think some patients are not getting the flu vaccine, the drawbacks or benefits to the receipt of vaccinations at pharmacies/grocery stores, and where patients are expected to obtain their vaccination.
Many of the healthcare professionals’ (HCPs) concerns, and patients’ reasons for not getting vaccinated, remain the same as last year’s findings. However, HCPs have an increased uneasiness around the lack of communication between patient medical records and pharmacies reporting the administration of a flu vaccine. The most frequently reported drawback to getting the flu vaccine at a pharmacy or grocery store was the difficulty of adding vaccinations from these places into the patient record — leaving physicians guessing as to whether patients ever received them.
Acknowledgement of this issue has increased from 31% in 2016 to 40% in 2017. That said, physicians also felt that the vaccination itself was more important than any potential drawbacks, such as lack of PCP oversight or the absence of a complete medical record, “It may result in more people vaccinated overall” – Primary care physician, MO.
Physicians also reported what they believe are the benefits to getting the flu vaccine at a pharmacy or grocery store. Ease of access (56%), no appointment needed (16%), and fast/low wait times (10%) for patients continue to be top factors physicians cite as motivating the public to obtain a flu shot at these locations.
Misconceptions about the risks of the flu shot itself persist, with (44%) of physicians reporting that patients share concerns about the ingredients in the vaccine, the requirement that they receive it, and the belief that it will make them sick. These fears are deeply rooted. As one physician said, “Many patients believe that the flu shot gives them the flu. That is the reason they do not receive the shot. I cannot convince them otherwise” – Internal medicine, IA. Interestingly, physicians also responded that 33% of patients refuse the flu vaccine because they don’t “get sick” and do not need it.
While we know how important the influenza vaccine is for patients, misconceptions within the patient population continue and create unnecessary risks to public health. InCrowd’s research suggests that not all patients welcome the opportunity to get a flu shot. Patient education continues to be a main concern as well as the lack of a digital partnership between the office/hospital/clinic setting and their non-clinical setting counterparts. The healthcare industry needs to continue to improve the process.