A recent survey conducted by the Annenberg Public Policy Center (APPC) of the University of Pennsylvania reveals that over a third of American adults are worried about contracting the seasonal flu, Covid-19, or the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) in the next three months. These three viral illnesses, known as the “tripledemic,” have placed a strain on healthcare facilities in the past. While RSV typically peaks later in the year, hospitals in certain parts of Texas are already seeing an influx of children with RSV.
RSV is a common respiratory virus that can cause mild cold-like symptoms but may also lead to severe illness and hospitalization, especially among infants and older adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The survey, called the Annenberg Science and Public Health Knowledge (ASAPH) survey, was conducted between October 5th and October 12th, 2023, and included over 1,500 U.S. adults. It found that Americans are more knowledgeable about RSV compared to earlier this year. This increased awareness is likely due to the approval of new RSV vaccines for adults aged 60 and older and pregnant individuals, as a means of protecting newborns.
1. RSV Concern: 35% of respondents are worried about contracting RSV in the next three months, up from 32% in January 2023. However, the majority (65%) are not worried about RSV.
2. Covid-19 Concern: 35% of respondents are worried about contracting Covid-19 in the next three months, an increase from 21% in August 2023. This level of concern is comparable to last winter’s (36% in January 2023).
3. Flu Concern: 39% of respondents are worried about contracting the seasonal flu in the next three months, which is similar to the levels observed in January 2023. However, 61% are not worried about the seasonal flu.
4. Complications: About 31% of respondents personally know someone who believes they are experiencing long-term health complications from a Covid-19 infection.
5. Decreased Flu Vaccination: Only 21% of respondents reported receiving the flu shot this season, compared to 26% in October 2022 and 38% in November 2021. This decline is concerning as annual flu vaccination not only protects against serious infections but also indicates acceptance of other CDC-recommended vaccines.
While the survey shows increased knowledge about RSV and the availability of vaccines, it also reveals mixed reception towards RSV preventives. Additionally, public confidence in vaccines has declined, and misinformation about vaccination has gained traction over the past few years.
Q: What is RSV?
A: RSV stands for respiratory syncytial virus, a common respiratory virus that can cause mild to severe illness, particularly in infants and older adults.
Q: Is there an RSV vaccine?
A: Yes, there are now FDA-approved vaccines for RSV targeted towards older adults and pregnant individuals to protect infants.
Q: Why is declining flu vaccination concerning?
A: Annual flu vaccination not only helps to prevent serious infections but also signals acceptance of other CDC-recommended vaccines.
Source: Annenberg Public Policy Center (URL: annenbergpublicpolicycenter.org)