Dec. 4 (UPI) -- Less half of all Americans have had a flu shot this year, and one-third do not plan to get one, even as the 2019-20 season shows signs of ramping up, a new poll has found.
The latest AmeriSpeak Spotlight on Health survey, released this week by NORC at the University of Chicago, found that just 44 percent of responding U.S. adults had received the influenza vaccine as of Nov. 11, while 37 percent of respondents indicated that they had no plans to get the shot this year.
"Because of the way the flu spreads in a community, failing to get a vaccination not only puts you at risk but also others for whom the consequences of the flu can be severe," Caitlin Oppenheimer, senior vice president of Public Health Research at NORC at the University of Chicago, said in a statement.
The most recent flu figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, released Monday, suggest that this year's flu season is well underway. There were more than 2,000 new confirmed cases reported nationally during the week ending Nov. 23, and 5.1 percent of all deaths across the country that week were the result of pneumonia- and influenza-related causes.
NORC conducted the AmeriSpeak Spotlight on Health survey between Nov. 7 and 11, interviewing more than 1,000 U.S. adults. The organization has conducted the National Immunization Survey for the CDC since 2005, providing annual estimates of vaccination coverage for infants and adolescents.
In this year's survey, just 18 percent of unvaccinated adults reported that they intended to get a vaccination this season. The highest vaccination rates, 65 percent, were reported among adults 60 years of age and older, a demographic that is considered to be at high risk for serious complications related to the flu.
However, roughly one in five of those over 60 years of age surveyed said they don't plan to get vaccinated this season. Overall, adults between 45 and 59 years of age reported the lowest vaccination rates, at 34 percent, and 43 percent of adults with children 18 years of age and younger living at home said they don't plan to vaccinate their offspring.
Th latter figure echoes the findings of an analysis of CDC data that noted that, nationally, flu vaccination rates for children typically hover around 60 percent.
"The CDC reports this year's flu season is off to an early start in most states and has already claimed numerous lives," said Caroline Pearson, senior vice president at NORC at the University of Chicago. "Widespread vaccination remains our best defense against this sometimes deadly virus."