Health Insurance

31% of Americans Are More Likely to Get a Flu Shot Because of the Pandemic, But 12% Are Less Likely

31% of Americans Are More Likely to Get a Flu Shot Because of the Pandemic, But 12% Are Less Likely

14% of consumers have gotten a flu shot in previous years but will never do so again.
A person receiving a flu shot.
A person receiving a flu shot. Source: Getty Images

With peak flu season around the corner, more than half of Americans plan to get vaccinated against the virus. The latest ValuePenguin survey of 2,050 U.S. consumers finds that 53% of Americans have already gotten a shot or will. More than a third of Americans (36%) say they won't get a flu shot this year.

ValuePenguin last asked consumers about flu vaccines in 2019, and the latest data shows fewer people plan to get the shot this flu season. Fifty-seven percent of consumers had received the shot (or planned to receive one) when surveyed in October 2019, or 8% more than this year. Also, 14% of consumers who have gotten a shot in the past won't this year — or ever again.

Key findings

More than half of consumers plan to get a flu shot this year, but fewer people than in 2019 say they'll get one

Amid the start of this year’s flu season, 53% of consumers plan to get a flu shot or have already gotten one. Three-quarters of baby boomers (ages 56 to 75) plan to get immunized this year, the most of any demographic — and it’s not even close. Meanwhile, more than 4 in 10 Gen Zers (ages 18 to 24), millennials (ages 25 to 40) and Gen Xers (ages 41 to 55) plan to get vaccinated. Also, more men (64%) plan to get a flu shot this year than women (44%).

Answer
Gen Zers
Millennials
Gen Xers
Baby boomers
Yes44%46%45%75%
No42%42%44%18%
Undecided14%12%12%6%

Source: ValuePenguin survey of 2,050 consumers.

In 2019, 57% of consumers had gotten or planned to get a flu shot, 8% higher than the share of the population that expects to get vaccinated against the flu this year. Most people are decided on the matter, as just 11% aren’t sure about getting a flu shot, compared with 53% who will get one and 36% who won't.

Most commonly, people are motivated to get a flu shot to prevent themselves from getting sick (80%). Fewer people (45%) will do it to prevent others from getting sick. (Indeed, 56% of those who have had the flu plan to get a shot this year.) Some people (4%) are getting the flu shot for its potential financial incentives and discounts, but the second-smallest percentage of consumers gave this response (only ahead of "other").

Reason for getting flu shot
Percentage
To protect myself from getting sick80%
To protect others from getting sick45%
I have just always done so36%
Recommended by my doctor31%
To set a good example for my family17%
To take advantage of incentives like discounts4%
Other2%

Source: ValuePenguin survey of 2,050 consumers.

On the other hand, 40% of those with children younger than 18 won’t be vaccinated against the flu this year. And 55% of those without health insurance coverage don't plan to get the shot, either. Comparatively, those without health insurance are 53% less likely to get vaccinated than those with coverage.

The survey data shows contracting COVID-19 doesn't seem to affect someone's plans to get a flu shot. Thirty-seven percent of those who have gotten COVID-19 won't be getting a flu shot this year. Among those who haven't gotten it, 36% won't get a flu vaccine.

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Most people are decided on the matter, as just 11% aren\u2019t sure about getting a flu shot, compared with 53% who will get one and 36% who won't.\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EMost commonly, people are motivated to get a flu shot to prevent themselves from getting sick (80%). Fewer people (45%) will do it to prevent others from getting sick. (Indeed, 56% of those who have had the flu plan to get a shot this year.) Some people (4%) are getting the flu shot for its potential financial incentives and discounts, but the second-smallest percentage of consumers gave this response (only ahead of \"other\").\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ReactComponent--root\"\u003E\n \u003Cdiv class=\"js-react-component-rendered js-react-component-SortableTable\" data-component-name=\"SortableTable\"\u003E\n \u003Cdiv class=\"StyledRootWrapper-sc-3qeib4 jYHfZo\"\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"StyledTableWrapper-sc-5nmmx9 fesmOM\"\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"StyledTableOverflowWrapper-sc-hixhp9 gVbnK\"\u003E\u003Ctable class=\"StyledTable-sc-ujzn9t jVpJxq\"\u003E\u003Cthead class=\"StyledHeaderRow-sc-1m1b8dn hCELBb\"\u003E\u003Ctr\u003E\u003Cth colSpan=\"1\" width=\"\" class=\"StyledHeaderCell-sc-nsptsd frWuiR\"\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"StyledColumnHeaderWrapper-sc-12xyb2r gPTwhA\"\u003E\u003Cspan\u003EReason for getting flu shot\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/th\u003E\u003Cth colSpan=\"1\" width=\"\" class=\"StyledHeaderCell-sc-nsptsd frWuiR\"\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"StyledColumnHeaderWrapper-sc-12xyb2r glLrYA\"\u003E\u003Cspan\u003EPercentage\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/th\u003E\u003C\/tr\u003E\u003C\/thead\u003E\u003Ctbody class=\"StyledBody-sc-14y8oc0 dcdMVT\"\u003E\u003Ctr\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee XfhRD\"\u003ETo protect myself from getting sick\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee frAYUA\"\u003E80%\u003C\/td\u003E\u003C\/tr\u003E\u003Ctr\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee XfhRD\"\u003ETo protect others from getting sick\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee frAYUA\"\u003E45%\u003C\/td\u003E\u003C\/tr\u003E\u003Ctr\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee XfhRD\"\u003EI have just always done so\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee frAYUA\"\u003E36%\u003C\/td\u003E\u003C\/tr\u003E\u003Ctr\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee XfhRD\"\u003ERecommended by my doctor\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee frAYUA\"\u003E31%\u003C\/td\u003E\u003C\/tr\u003E\u003Ctr\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee XfhRD\"\u003ETo set a good example for my family\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee frAYUA\"\u003E17%\u003C\/td\u003E\u003C\/tr\u003E\u003Ctr\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee XfhRD\"\u003ETo take advantage of incentives like discounts\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee frAYUA\"\u003E4%\u003C\/td\u003E\u003C\/tr\u003E\u003Ctr\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee XfhRD\"\u003EOther\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee frAYUA\"\u003E2%\u003C\/td\u003E\u003C\/tr\u003E\u003C\/tbody\u003E\u003C\/table\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003Cp class=\"SortableTable--footnote\"\u003ESource: ValuePenguin survey of 2,050 consumers.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n\n \u003Cscript type=\"application\/json\" class=\"js-react-component\" data-component-name=\"SortableTable\"\u003E{\"alignsHorizontal\":[\"left\",\"right\"],\"alignsVertical\":[],\"columnWidths\":[],\"data\":[[\"Reason for getting flu shot\",\"Percentage\"],[\"To protect myself from getting sick\",\"80%\"],[\"To protect others from getting sick\",\"45%\"],[\"I have just always done so\",\"36%\"],[\"Recommended by my doctor\",\"31%\"],[\"To set a good example for my family\",\"17%\"],[\"To take advantage of incentives like discounts\",\"4%\"],[\"Other\",\"2%\"]],\"footnote\":\"Source: ValuePenguin survey of 2,050 consumers.\",\"hideHeaderRow\":false,\"hasMarginBottom\":true,\"isExpandable\":true,\"isSortable\":false,\"maxWidth\":\"1215\",\"minWidth\":\"100%\",\"showSearch\":false,\"sortColumnIndex\":0,\"sortDirection\":\"asc\"}\u003C\/script\u003E\n\n\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EOn the other hand, 40% of those with children younger than 18 won\u2019t be vaccinated against the flu this year. And 55% of those without \u003Cspan\u003E\u003Ca class=\"ShortcodeLink--root ShortcodeLink--black\" title=\"Compare Quotes for Health Insurance Plans\" href=\"https:\/\/www.valuepenguin.com\/health-insurance\"\u003Ehealth insurance coverage\u003C\/a\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E don't plan to get the shot, either. Comparatively, those without health insurance are 53% less likely to get vaccinated than those with coverage.\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EThe survey data shows contracting COVID-19 doesn't seem to affect someone's plans to get a flu shot. Thirty-seven percent of those who have gotten COVID-19 won't be getting a flu shot this year. Among those who haven't gotten it, 36% won't get a flu vaccine.\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E","padding":"double"}

Why aren't people interested in getting a flu shot? Uncertainty about vaccines and impact on finances are among the reasons

Besides the 36% of people who won't get a flu shot this year, 32% of people either have never gotten a flu shot and don't plan to do so (18%) or have gotten a vaccine in the past but will never get one again (14%). ValuePenguin asked consumers why they don't want to get vaccinated, discovering that people are most concerned about the efficacy or side effects of vaccines.

Don't think it works
27%
Side effects27%
Other22%
Concerned about what's actually in the shot18%
Afraid of needles10%
Possible allergic reaction8%
Can't afford it7%
My doctor told me not to5%

Source: ValuePenguin survey of 2,050 consumers.

Most commonly, those who don't plan to get a flu vaccine won't do it because they don't think the shot works (27%) or because they have concerns about possible side effects (27%). Similarly, 18% are concerned about what's in the shot and 8% fear an allergic reaction.

Looking even deeper, millennials are most likely (29%) to avoid the flu shot because they doubt its efficacy. Nearly 1 in 3 (30%) Gen Xers fear side effects of the shot. And Gen Xers are most likely (17%) to abstain from the shot out of fear of needles. Compared to men, women are more than twice as likely to avoid the shot because they don't like needles (12% versus 5%).

Sixty-two percent of all respondents believe a flu vaccine protects against the virus, while 38% don't think a flu shot is effective — including 45% of Gen Zers and 44% of millennials.

Seven percent of people who don't plan to get the shot voiced hesitations about their finances, as they don't think they can afford to get a flu shot this year. Indeed, this may be why 55% of those who aren’t insured also don’t plan to get a flu shot this season.

What does it cost to get a flu shot? Most health insurance providers allow policyholders to get a flu shot for free — though they may require it happens at a doctor's office — or for a small copay. However, for those without coverage, affordable options are available. Typically, a shot can cost $20 to more than $70 at major pharmacies, but the price depends on the patient's age and dosage. For those with Medicare, the flu shot is covered.

People who have contracted the flu in the past are more likely to get vaccinated than those who haven't. Fifty-six percent of those who have gotten sick before with the flu will get vaccinated this year, while 46% who haven’t won’t get vaccinated. However, there's not a similar correlation present when it comes to COVID-19. Fifty-three percent of those who have and haven't gotten COVID-19 plan to get the shot.

Fifty-seven percent of people maintain that the pandemic didn’t affect their plans to get a flu shot. Thirty-one percent of people believe the pandemic has made them more likely to get a flu shot, and 12% think it made them less likely to get a flu shot.

There's a much more discernible difference when it comes to the flu shot among those who haven't been vaccinated against COVID-19 and those who are fully vaccinated. Among consumers who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, 69% will get the flu shot this year. Fifty-one percent of those who are partially vaccinated plan to get a flu shot this year. This number drops to 19% for those who are unvaccinated against COVID-19.

Support for mandatory flu vaccinations — in schools and from employers — is down compared to 2019

Two years ago, 66% of people supported a hypothetical mandatory flu vaccination policy in K-12 public schools. This year, support has fallen to 54%. Fifty-nine percent of men support such a policy, as do more than half of Gen Zers (54%), millennials (54%) and baby boomers (63%). Fifty-three percent of those with kids younger than 18 support this policy, too.

ValuePenguin also uncovered a similar change in the percentage of those who support companies mandating employees to get a flu shot. In 2021, 40% of people support this policy, versus the 55% in 2019 who favored companies requiring employees to get vaccinated.

54% currently support mandating that health care professionals get the flu shot, though researchers didn't ask this question in 2019.

In all three cases, uninsured people are less inclined to support mandatory flu vaccinations. Just 33% of consumers without insurance are in favor of a mandatory flu vaccine requirement for medical professionals, compared to 58% in favor among those with insurance. Similarly, 36% of uninsured people support flu vaccine requirements in K-12 public schools (compared with 57% of insured people), and 24% of uninsured people favor an employer mandate (compared with 43% of those with insurance).

Policy
Insured
Uninsured
Mandate for medical professionals58%33%
Mandate for K-12 public schools57%36%
Mandate for employees from employers43%24%

Source: ValuePenguin survey of 2,050 consumers.

{"backgroundColor":"white","content":"\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003ETwo years ago, 66% of people supported a hypothetical mandatory flu vaccination policy in K-12 public schools. This year, support has fallen to 54%. Fifty-nine percent of men support such a policy, as do more than half of Gen Zers (54%), millennials (54%) and baby boomers (63%). Fifty-three percent of those with kids younger than 18 support this policy, too.\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EValuePenguin also uncovered a similar change in the percentage of those who support companies mandating employees to get a flu shot. In 2021, 40% of people support this policy, versus the 55% in 2019 who favored companies requiring employees to get vaccinated.\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ShortcodePullquote--root\"\u003E\n \u003Cp class=\"ShortcodePullquote--text ShortcodePullquote--blue\"\u003E\n \n54% currently support mandating that health care professionals get the flu shot, though researchers didn't ask this question in 2019.\n\n \u003C\/p\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003EIn all three cases, uninsured people are less inclined to support mandatory flu vaccinations. Just 33% of \u003Cspan\u003E\u003Ca class=\"ShortcodeLink--root ShortcodeLink--black\" title=\"Uninsured Rates study\" href=\"https:\/\/www.valuepenguin.com\/uninsured-rates-study\"\u003Econsumers without insurance\u003C\/a\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E are in favor of a mandatory flu vaccine requirement for medical professionals, compared to 58% in favor among those with insurance. Similarly, 36% of uninsured people support flu vaccine requirements in K-12 public schools (compared with 57% of insured people), and 24% of uninsured people favor an employer mandate (compared with 43% of those with insurance).\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"ReactComponent--root\"\u003E\n \u003Cdiv class=\"js-react-component-rendered js-react-component-SortableTable\" data-component-name=\"SortableTable\"\u003E\n \u003Cdiv class=\"StyledRootWrapper-sc-3qeib4 jYHfZo\"\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"StyledTableWrapper-sc-5nmmx9 fesmOM\"\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"StyledTableOverflowWrapper-sc-hixhp9 gVbnK\"\u003E\u003Ctable class=\"StyledTable-sc-ujzn9t jVpJxq\"\u003E\u003Cthead class=\"StyledHeaderRow-sc-1m1b8dn hCELBb\"\u003E\u003Ctr\u003E\u003Cth colSpan=\"1\" width=\"\" class=\"StyledHeaderCell-sc-nsptsd frWuiR\"\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"StyledColumnHeaderWrapper-sc-12xyb2r gPTwhA\"\u003E\u003Cspan\u003EPolicy\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/th\u003E\u003Cth colSpan=\"1\" width=\"\" class=\"StyledHeaderCell-sc-nsptsd frWuiR\"\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"StyledColumnHeaderWrapper-sc-12xyb2r glLrYA\"\u003E\u003Cspan\u003EInsured\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/th\u003E\u003Cth colSpan=\"1\" width=\"\" class=\"StyledHeaderCell-sc-nsptsd frWuiR\"\u003E\u003Cdiv class=\"StyledColumnHeaderWrapper-sc-12xyb2r glLrYA\"\u003E\u003Cspan\u003EUninsured\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/th\u003E\u003C\/tr\u003E\u003C\/thead\u003E\u003Ctbody class=\"StyledBody-sc-14y8oc0 dcdMVT\"\u003E\u003Ctr\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee XfhRD\"\u003EMandate for medical professionals\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee frAYUA\"\u003E58%\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee frAYUA\"\u003E33%\u003C\/td\u003E\u003C\/tr\u003E\u003Ctr\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee XfhRD\"\u003EMandate for K-12 public schools\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee frAYUA\"\u003E57%\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee frAYUA\"\u003E36%\u003C\/td\u003E\u003C\/tr\u003E\u003Ctr\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee XfhRD\"\u003EMandate for employees from employers\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee frAYUA\"\u003E43%\u003C\/td\u003E\u003Ctd colSpan=\"1\" rowspan=\"1\" width=\"\" class=\"StyledBodyCell-sc-5cu9ee frAYUA\"\u003E24%\u003C\/td\u003E\u003C\/tr\u003E\u003C\/tbody\u003E\u003C\/table\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\u003Cp class=\"SortableTable--footnote\"\u003ESource: ValuePenguin survey of 2,050 consumers.\u003C\/p\u003E\u003C\/div\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n\n \u003Cscript type=\"application\/json\" class=\"js-react-component\" data-component-name=\"SortableTable\"\u003E{\"alignsHorizontal\":[\"left\",\"right\",\"right\"],\"alignsVertical\":[],\"columnWidths\":[],\"data\":[[\"Policy\",\"Insured\",\"Uninsured\"],[\"Mandate for medical professionals\",\"58%\",\"33%\"],[\"Mandate for K-12 public schools\",\"57%\",\"36%\"],[\"Mandate for employees from employers\",\"43%\",\"24%\"]],\"footnote\":\"Source: ValuePenguin survey of 2,050 consumers.\",\"hideHeaderRow\":false,\"hasMarginBottom\":true,\"isExpandable\":true,\"isSortable\":false,\"maxWidth\":\"1215\",\"minWidth\":\"100%\",\"showSearch\":false,\"sortColumnIndex\":0,\"sortDirection\":\"asc\"}\u003C\/script\u003E\n\n\u003C\/div\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\n\n\u003Cp\u003E","padding":"double"}

Methodology

ValuePenguin commissioned Qualtrics to conduct an online survey of 2,050 U.S. consumers from Sept. 23 to 30, 2021. The survey was administered using a non probability-based sample, and quotas were used to ensure the sample base represented the overall population. All responses were reviewed by researchers for quality control.

We defined generations as the following ages in 2021:

  • Generation Z: 18 to 24
  • Millennial: 25 to 40
  • Generation X: 41 to 55
  • Baby boomer: 56 to 75

While the survey also included consumers from the silent generation (76 and older), the sample size was too small to include findings related to that group in the generational breakdowns.