Consumers take care not to pick up germs but could be more diligent in preventing flu, including getting an annual flu shot, according to a recent CVS/pharmacy survey.


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People can do more in flu prevention, CVS poll finds

October 18th, 2011

WOONSOCKET, R.I. – Consumers take care not to pick up germs but could be more diligent in preventing flu, including getting an annual flu shot, according to a recent CVS/pharmacy survey.

CVS said Tuesday that the telephone poll of nearly 1,500 U.S. adults, conducted on its behalf by KRC Research, found that 42% of respondents don't plan to get a flu vaccination this year, despite the recommendation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that anyone age 6 months or older should get a flu immunization.

Misinformation about flu shots may cause people to not get vaccinated, the CVS survey revealed. Among those polled, 49% think flu shots are mainly for children, the elderly, pregnant women and people with chronic conditions, and 35% incorrectly believe that flu shots can give people the flu. Also, 14% think flu shots are dangerous, despite strong federal safety measures for vaccines.

Other misconceptions about flu vaccines centered on efficacy. The survey found that 25% of respondents don't think flu shots work very well, while 22% believe flu shots can protect people for up to two years, even though a vaccination is needed annually because the immunity declines over the course of the flu season.

African-American adults are more likely to have misconceptions about flu shots and are somewhat less likely than others to get a flu shot, yet are among the most concerned about picking up germs, according to the survey. Meanwhile, Hispanic adults are more likely than others to do all the right things to avoid getting and transmitting the flu and are among the most likely to plan to get a flu shot this year.

"Myths about the flu shot are prevalent, causing people to go unprotected each year and putting themselves and their families at risk," Troy Brennan, chief medical officer of CVS Caremark Corp., said in a statement. "Vaccination is the first line of defense against the flu, and we encourage individuals to protect themselves with a seasonal flu shot."

Daily preventive measures such as hand washing can stop the spread of germs, but these aren't always practiced, the CVS poll revealed. Though 99% of respondents said they almost always wash their hands after using a restroom, only 70% do so after blowing their nose. What's more, 76% of those surveyed have gone to work with cold- or flu-like symptoms.

"It's always important to wash your hands frequently with soap and water, cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you sneeze, and avoid contact with those who are sick," stated Papatya Tankut, vice president of pharmacy professional services at CVS/pharmacy. "But the number one thing you can do to prevent the flu is get a flu shot."

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