CVS Health study says more Americans plan to get a flu shot

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WOONSOCKET, R.I. — Marking the start of flu vaccine availability, a new survey from CVS Health found that one in five (22%) of consumers surveyed who didn’t get a flu vaccine last year say that knowledge of last year’s flu season which had flu levels that were the highest observed since 2009 makes them more likely to get vaccinated this year. On a similar note, among the 27% of parents of children under 18 whose child did not get the flu vaccine last year, 26% say they are more likely to get their child vaccinated this year after learning about the notably high flu levels during last year’s flu season.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone who is eligible and at least six months old get a flu shot when the vaccine becomes available, preferably by October. To ensure that patients are able to get the flu shot as soon as possible, all CVS Pharmacy and MinuteClinic locations nationwide now have the vaccine available.

The annual flu survey, conducted online by The Harris Poll on behalf of CVS Pharmacy in July 2018 among over 2,000 U.S. adults ages 18+, also found that two-thirds (66%) of those surveyed get a flu vaccine every year, or plan to get one this year, a 5% increase from last year’s survey findings.

“Many people are looking for ways to stay healthy, especially during cold and flu season,” said Papatya Tankut, vice president of pharmacy affairs at CVS Health. “This has led to an increase in those who are planning to get a flu shot this year, and we’re hoping this results in fewer flu cases. CVS Pharmacy continues to be a partner in helping our customers combat the flu and helping them focus on their overall health in a way that works for them particularly in terms of convenience, access and affordability.”

Doctors’ opinions (39%), where insurance is accepted (38%), and convenience (33%) continue to rank among the top three factors in determining where to go for a flu shot among patients who have received a flu vaccine. Among the same group, the percentage who get vaccinated within a pharmacy stayed the same as last year at 22%, but there is a shift for those employed adults who get vaccinated at their workplace (previously 22%, now 15%) and those who get vaccinated by their primary care provider or other health care professional (previously 44%, now 48%).

Flu vaccinations are conveniently available seven days a week at CVS Pharmacy and MinuteClinic locations nationwide with no appointment needed. CVS Pharmacy can provide flu shots to adolescents (in some states, depending on regulations), adults and seniors. MinuteClinic can provide flu shots to children 18 months and up, adolescents, adults and seniors, making it easy to vaccinate the whole family in one trip. In addition, customers will receive a $5 off $25 coupon when they get a flu shot at CVS Pharmacy or MinuteClinic. Patients who receive a flu shot at CVS Pharmacy or MinuteClinic locations inside select Target stores will receive a $5 Target coupon.

Up 2% from last year, 67% of those surveyed would still go to work if they were feeling ill with flu-like symptoms. The biggest reason for going into the office among those who would go with the flu is not wanting to use paid time off (44%), while 38% are worried about lost wages. 37% say that they go to work simply because their company and/or boss would expect them to come in.

Other notable findings from the survey include:

  • Flu-like symptoms haven’t stopped some people from going out in public:
    • 28% have gone to the supermarket
    • 12% have even picked up a child from school/daycare
    • 10% have taken public transport
  • Washing hands has long been touted as an effective way to stop the spread of germs 75% of those surveyed choose to do this as often as possible (up 5% from last year); other top methods include:
    • 55% drink more water
    • 50% take vitamins
    • 50% regularly use hand sanitizer
    • 50% wipe down surfaces with sanitizing wipes

“Surprising to many, it can actually take up to two weeks for the flu vaccine to build immunity,” said Angela Patterson, chief nurse practitioner officer at MinuteClinic. “Because of this, CVS Pharmacy recommends patients get their flu shot as soon as the vaccine becomes available to ensure patients are the most protected before flu season peaks. Furthermore, influenza strains tend to change each year, so it’s very important to get vaccinated annually to make sure you are protected.”

The flu vaccine is a preventive service under the Affordable Care Act, fully covered and available at no cost through most insurance plans, including Medicare Part B. CVS Pharmacy and MinuteClinic can directly bill many national and regional health plans that cover all or part of the cost of a flu shot.


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