It’s fall and there are new flu vaccines and Covid-19 boosters available. The advice from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is clear: Virtually everyone should plan on getting both shots.1, 2
The need for both vaccinations/boosters is especially important this year:
- Some experts believe that the U.S. 2022-2023 flu season will be severe. One contributing factor is that the previous two flu seasons have been much less severe than usual. As a result, overall immunity against the flu is down.3
- The new Covid boosters are aimed at the most contagious subvariants (BA.4/BA.5) of the Omicron virus yet seen.4
Is fatigue setting in?
Unfortunately, after nearly three years of non-stop discussion about viruses and vaccines – some of it extremely contentious – there are very real signs of vaccination fatigue.5 Vaccine fatigue is defined as “…people’s inertia or inaction towards vaccine information or instruction due to perceived burden and burnout.” 6
Whether people are tired of talking about vaccines in general, or tired of the Covid-19 pandemic itself, the concern is the same: People will simply tune-out vaccination campaign communications – not just for Covid-19, but also for the flu.7
Note that vaccine fatigue is not associated with those who hold vehement anti-vaccination views. Rather, fatigue is more common in people who hold pro-vaccination views. In other words, the very people who have been the most conscientious about tracking and responding to public health messaging are the very ones who are suffering from fatigue.8
We can see this happening right now.
Despite CDC-backed public education campaigns and separate marketing efforts by vaccine makers, a recent survey finds that half the public says they’ve heard either little or nothing at all about the new COVID-19 boosters.9
Worse, the contentious discussion around the Covid-19 vaccines is beginning to have a spillover effect on people’s willingness to get the flu vaccine. Compared to pre-pandemic times, adult flu vaccination rates have dropped by 4.5% in states that have low rates of Covid-19 vaccination.10
Vaccination fatigue seems to stem in part from an overemphasis on the technical details of vaccination – complex dosing schedules, efficacy, side effects, etc.11
With this in mind, here are four considerations in favor of timely vaccination with a somewhat different approach. Instead of focusing on the science behind the vaccines, their emphasis is on some demonstrated benefits that show why vaccination is in each individual’s best interest.
[NOTE: This article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended as medical advice. Anyone who has questions or concerns about getting either a flu vaccine or a Covid-19 booster should consult their care provider.]
1. Flu and Covid-19 vaccination/boosters offer your best protection against serious illness or death.
Whether we’re talking about the flu or about Covid-19, we often hear that vaccination is the simplest step to make a drastic difference in one’s personal protection.
This graph concerns Covid-19 vaccination and/or booster uptake. Look at the January 2022 segment. People who were unvaccinated against Covid-19 faced a risk of death more than 1,400% higher than those who were up to date. 12