Increasing Flu Vaccination Rates Could Boost Covid Vaccination Rates, Experts Say

Increasing Flu Vaccination Rates Could Boost Covid Vaccination Rates, Experts Say

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it has been recommended since 2010 that everyone in the US aged 6 months and older receive a flu vaccine annually. However, the CDC indicates that only about 50% of adults and 58% of children actually receive the flu shot each year. On the other hand, the Covid-19 vaccination rates remain much lower, with only 21% of US adults and less than 8% of individuals under 18 receiving a booster shot.

Experts attribute the lower Covid vaccination rates to several factors. Firstly, there was a common perception that children were less affected by the virus, leading to reduced acceptance of vaccinations for younger individuals. Moreover, the political aspect surrounding the Covid vaccine may have influenced people’s willingness to get vaccinated. However, older adults, who generally have higher Covid vaccination rates, still fall short compared to flu vaccination rates. Approximately 43% of those aged 65 and older received the Covid-19 booster compared to the typical two-thirds who receive the flu shot.

As Covid vaccines undergo annual updates, similar to flu shots, there is optimism that the higher uptake of flu vaccination could have a positive impact on Covid vaccination rates. Vaccine manufacturer Moderna’s CEO, Stephane Bancel, believes that pharmacists and doctors may recommend Covid shots alongside flu shots to increase uptake. Pfizer also predicts an increase in Covid vaccination rates in the future, with the introduction of a combined Covid-flu shot.

Both Moderna and Pfizer are in the process of developing a combined flu and Covid vaccine, with Moderna’s data expected by the end of this year. Novavax is also testing a combination Covid-flu vaccine, although it utilizes a different technology than the mRNA-based vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer.

Currently, individuals in the US can receive both the Covid and flu vaccines during the same appointment. This convenience factor is recommended by public health officials. Moreover, recent estimates presented by the CDC suggest that a broad recommendation for updated Covid vaccines could prevent 40,000 deaths and 400,000 hospitalizations. Expanding the recommendation to include everyone aged 6 months and older would prevent an additional 15,000 deaths and 200,000 hospitalizations in the next two years.

While increasing flu vaccination rates may assist in boosting Covid vaccination rates, public health experts emphasize that there is still room for improvement in flu rates as well.

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