Learn more about our FREE COVID-19 Patient Support Program for chronic illness patients and their loved ones.
Earlier this fall, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended the COVID vaccine (both the mRNA and novavax), as well as the annual influenza vaccine. Getting vaccinated against these common infections is important for the general population, and especially for those living with underlying conditions who may have a weakened immune system.
In our latest poll, the Global Healthy Living Foundation’s COVID-19 Patient Support Program aimed to gain insight into our community’s plan for getting the 2023-2024 COVID vaccine and influenza vaccine.
Here are key learnings and insights from the poll.
Majority of people with chronic illness have gotten or plan to get both their COVID-19 and flu shot this year.
In the free response section, many shared reasons for getting the vaccines, including sentiments like, “it’s important to protect ourselves against flu and COVID,” “hopefully these shots will keep me safe from getting seriously ill from either disease,” and “I am immune suppressed due to the medication I take for arthritis so I know that getting vaccines in a timely fashion is important.”
Of the 2,593 respondents, 47 percent reported they have already received both vaccines.
- 27% have not received either.
- 20% received their flu shot but not COVID.
- 5% received COVID but not flu.
Of these people above who have not yet received both, 52 percent plan on getting both vaccines.
- 23% plan on getting their flu shot but not COVID.
- 20% do not plan on getting either.
- 6% plan on getting their COVID shot but not flu.
Half of people are talking to their doctor about the vaccines.
Fifty three percent said their doctor/doctor’s office have recommended they get both vaccines.
- 31% said doctor/provider has not talked to me about either.
- 15% said no, they did not recommend I get either.
- 1% said they only recommended I get the COVID-19 booster.
Top concerns for not getting vaccinated were about vaccine effectiveness and related side effects and symptoms.
From the free response section where respondents could elaborate on answers provided in the survey, the top concerns were around efficacy, side effects, and disease related flares.
- “I just don’t feel like it will be effective.”
- “I have multiple autoimmune diseases. Every time I receive any vaccine, I suffer setbacks in (1) or more autoimmune diseases that can last weeks or months.”
- “The shots caused an arthritis flare up.”
- “The side effects are terrible, and people are still getting COVID who are fully vaccinated.”
- “Was very unwell after COVID vaccinations. Concern of impact of vaccines on immune system.”
- “I had a severe flare up when I had the COVID shots last time and rheumatologist advised against getting it again. I had COVID and it was not severe.”
- “I have been advised not to have the COVID and flu vaccination because I have reacted to both previously.”
Most of the comments were related to the COVID vaccine as opposed to flu, and there was a theme of lack of trust around the COVID vaccine.
- “I have no faith in the COVID shot.”
- “I’ve got the flu shot. About the COVID shot I’m not sure yet. I’ve already got four shots since the beginning. It is still a vaccine we don’t know much about for our future health.”
- “I’m good with flu shot; I just don’t trust the COVID shot yet.”
Timing is also a factor for when people with chronic illness get their vaccine.
In the free response section of the poll, we also learned that many people with chronic illness consider the timing of getting one or both shots at the same time, and also whether they have recently had an infection:
- “I will be getting it; I just have not had time yet.”
- “I got the COVID shot earlier than usual as I was taking a flight. I would never get both vacations together. I have never had a flu and didn’t have Covid-19.”
- “I got them both so I only have to hold my immune suppressant for one week.”
- “While I have read that it is safe to get both the flu vaccine and COVID booster at the same time, I will get them separately. I am concerned about side effects and feeling worse than usual.”
- “I already got my flu shot. I was about to get COVID shot, but then caught COVID in jury duty. It’s been 10 days and continues. My doctor just told me there is no need to get the COVID shot for another three months due to antibodies from my current, difficult COVID.”
We encourage you to talk to your doctor or pharmacist about these vaccines and what is best for you.
The Global Healthy Living Foundation is committed to providing ongoing education about COVID-19 vaccines for the chronic illness and immunocompromised community.
To stay informed about the latest COVID-19 vaccine news for people who are immunocompromised, take immunosuppressant medications, or have autoimmune conditions, follow all of our COVID-19 vaccine coverage here.
About the Patient Support Program Quick Poll
Members of our program have underlying health issues – such as inflammatory arthritis and other autoimmune conditions, heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, and more — that may increase their risk for COVID-19 complications. They are interested in understanding the best ways to stay safe during the pandemic and to be part of a community of people with similar concerns, questions, and fears.
We regularly poll members, who live in the U.S. as well as around the globe, about a variety of topics, including how the pandemic is affecting their lifestyle, mental health, chronic disease management, medication adherence, and more.
We use this information to inform the educational resources we provide and to inform other stakeholders — such as public health experts, policymakers, advocacy groups, health care professionals, and pharmaceutical companies — about chronic illness patients’ needs and concerns. You can participate in ongoing poll by joining the support program here.