As we enter the viral disease season, it’s important to remember that prevention is key. Last season, we lost 21,000 people to the flu, and unfortunately, vaccine hesitancy has worsened in recent years. Fewer people are getting the flu vaccine than before the pandemic, which is a concerning trend.
COVID-19 remains a threat, especially for vulnerable populations. Shockingly, half of young children in the ICU with COVID have no underlying conditions. Therefore, we strongly recommend the updated COVID-19 vaccine for everyone over the age of 6 months, including toddlers.
It’s not just COVID-19 and flu that pose a threat this season. We are already seeing a rise in RSV cases and hospitalizations. This winter’s “tripledemic” is a serious concern, and it’s important that we take action to protect ourselves and our loved ones.
A new survey from the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases reveals that while nearly two-thirds of US adults agree that vaccination is the best way to prevent flu-related hospitalizations and deaths, 43% of adults do not plan to or are unsure if they will get the flu vaccine.
Furthermore, while updated COVID-19 vaccines are strongly recommended, only 40% plan to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Among adults age 60 years and older, only 40% plan to get vaccinated against RSV. This is a worrisome trend that we need to address.
Vaccines may not be perfect, but they turn a wild infection into a mild infection. We have work to do to conquer vaccine hesitancy, and it’s important that we meet the public where they are. This means going into the community, to faith-based centers, and wherever people are. We need to make it as easy as possible for people to get vaccinated and educate them about the benefits of vaccination.
The bottom line is that vaccines save lives. It’s a moral issue, and we must do everything we can to prevent preventable deaths. As a CDC director and a mom and wife and daughter, we wouldn’t recommend something to the American people that we wouldn’t do with our own family. It’s exciting that we have these tools, and we need to use them to protect ourselves and our communities.