Flu Shot Misconceptions reported by 51% of Primary Care Physicians

Primary care physicians (43%) report that pharmacy or grocery flu shot availability provides ease of access for their patients

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Misconceptions about the benefits of the seasonal influenza vaccine increased during 2018 to the highest level in 3 years, according to a new report from InCrowd. 

While the majority of patients do consent to the annual flu shot, 51 percent of US primary care physician (PCPs) said patients have misconceptions around the risks and benefits of vaccinations. 

This is an increase from 44 percent of PCPs reporting misconceptions in 2017.   

This annual 5-minute micro survey monitors perceptions among US PCPs who administer the flu vaccine about their patients’ reasons for non-vaccination, where patients get their flu shot, physician thoughts on the benefits, limitations of pharmacy or grocery vaccinations, and clinic requirements for staff vaccinations. 

“On this, the 100th anniversary of the 1918 flu pandemic when an estimated 50 million people died in the decades before a flu vaccine became available, InCrowd’s results suggest we need to keep up the public education campaign on the benefits of the flu vaccine lest we experience another global health crisis,” said Diane Hayes, Ph.D., epidemiologist and co-founder of InCrowd who directed the micro survey. 

The PCP perception micro survey also found that:

  • Slightly more patients (61%), will receive their flu shot in their doctor’s offices, up from 57% in 2017, and 55% in 2016,
  • 18 percent of patients will be vaccinated at a pharmacy or grocery store,
  • 37 percent of PCPs remain concerned that pharmacy- or grocery store-administered flu shots are not recorded on the patient’s medical record,

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A companion micro survey of pharmacists who administer flu vaccinations suggests physician concerns about medical records noting their patients’ flu shots may be well-founded.

  • 42 percent of pharmacists who administer flu shots said their clinic does not provide a medical record of the shot directly to the PCP,
  • while 42% say their clinic automates the fax to the patient’s PCP as a record of a flu shot, and,
  • 16% of pharmacists connect directly to the medical record.

Although 43 percent of PCPs in 2018 report that pharmacy or grocery store flu shot availability provides ease of access for their patients, 13 percent find that these clinics offer no major advantage. 

This is a jump from just 2 percent in 2017, and 7 percent in 2016. 

The 5-minute micro survey of physician perceptions on the flu vaccine included data from 201 PCPs who administer a flu vaccine and responded between October 23 -25, 2018.

The companion micro survey of pharmacists who administer flu vaccine included 50 pharmacists who responded on November 16, 2018.