Theres a 25-point gap between Republicans and Democrats on flu shots – Business Insider

  • Recent polls show a 25 percentage-point gap between Republicans and Democrats who’ve gotten or will get a flu shot.
  • This is remarkably similar to the approximately 30 percentage-point partisan gap on COVID-19 vaccine uptake.
  • Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, there was little to no partisan gap on influenza vaccine uptake. 

Recent polls show Republicans are now much less likely to get a

flu shot

than they were before the COVID-19 pandemic, indicating that the politicization of the coronavirus vaccines is bleeding over into the flu immunization.

In the years prior to the global pandemic, Republicans and Democrats were similarly likely to get an annual influenza shot, CNN recently pointed out. In a February 2020 AP-NORC poll, 58% of Democrats and 54% of Republicans said they’d gotten a flu shot in the past year.

This year, between 65 and 68% of Democrats say they have gotten or will almost certainly get a flu shot, while between 40 and 44% of Republicans said they have or will get vaccinated against the flu, recent polls show. A UC San Diego study published last spring found that Republicans had become less likely to say they’d get a flu shot during the pandemic. 

This gap is reflective of the approximately 30 percentage-point gap between Democrats and Republicans who’ve received a COVID-19 jab. While between 90 and 95% of Democrats 18 and older have gotten a coronavirus vaccine, just about 65% of adult Republicans have done the same.

The coronavirus vaccines, vaccine mandates, and other public health efforts related to the pandemic, including mask-wearing and lockdowns, have been heavily politicized over the last nearly two years. Republicans are much more likely than Democrats to oppose these mitigation efforts. Many Republican lawmakers and politicians have aggressively opposed COVID-19 vaccination and testing requirements, a position some experts fear will aggravate hesitancy and opposition to other vaccines as well. 

This partisan gap in vaccine uptake is one reason why there’s a significantly higher COVID-19 death rate in counties that voted for former President Donald Trump and those that President Joe Biden won in 2020. Those who’ve received a COVID-19 vaccine are much more likely to have gotten or say they will get a flu shot than those who’ve failed to get vaccinated against the coronavirus. 

This comes as public health officials have ramped up their efforts to promote the influenza vaccine. Last year, medical experts warned of a “twindemic” of both rising COVID-19 cases and a flu epidemic that could overwhelm hospitals already stretched to the brink with coronavirus patients, prior to the release of the COVID-19 vaccines. The 2020-2021 flu season was ultimately very mild, likely because many Americans stayed home, distanced from others, and wore masks to protect against the coronavirus. But with many COVID-19 mitigation efforts loosened this year, it’s likely cases of the flu will be higher.

Some private entities have also stepped up their efforts to fight the flu as the season. Some universities have mandated that students and staff get the flu shot this year. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone in the US six months and older get a flu shot. Medical experts warn that contracting the flu could make people more vulnerable to COVID-19 and that catching both viruses simultaneously could dramatically increase the risk of severe illness or death. 

“The Covid-19 pandemic is not over, and the risk of both flu and Covid-19 circulating could put additional strain on hospitals and frontline health care professionals,” CDC head Dr. Rochelle Walensky said in October.