Fearing a ‘twindemic’, health experts urgently urge for flu shots


“Access is an issue for all adult vaccines,” said LJ Tan, strategy director for the Immunization Action Coalition, a non-profit group that works to increase immunization rates, who was one of the early promoters of the term twindemic. “Adults can think, if I can get a flu shot easily, I might think about it.”

But as difficult as getting the flu shot safely, it may be more difficult to persuade them to get the flu shot. During the 2018-19 influenza season in the United States, only 45.3% of adults over 18 received the vaccine, with rates among those aged 18 to 50 being significantly lower.

Skepticism about this vaccine is high, especially in communities of color due to long-standing mistrust and discrimination in public health. A 2017 study in the journal Vaccine noted that, compared to whites, “African Americans were more likely to report barriers to immunization, were more hesitant about vaccines in general and the flu shot in particular. , more likely to believe in conspiracy theories and use naturalism as an alternative to vaccination. “

Perhaps the most striking reason for avoiding the flu vaccine across all demographic groups is that people don’t consider it to be as effective as, say, the measles vaccine.

Indeed, it is a good vaccine but not an excellent vaccine. It should be repeated every year. Immunity takes up to two weeks to kick in. But its effectiveness also depends on how accurately infectious disease centers around the world predict which strains should be circulating in the coming year. And then these strains can mutate.

Although the influenza vaccine provides immunity at all ages over six months, it may be less complete in people over 65. Depending on many factors, the effectiveness of the vaccine in any given year can vary from 40 to 60 percent.

“But an unadministered vaccine will not protect anyone,” said Dr. Jane R. Zucker, deputy commissioner of the Bureau of Immunization at the New York City Health Department, who hosted webinars for providers on how to discuss the vaccine. against influenza with hesitant patients.


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