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COVID vaccine hesitancy threatens flu vaccine uptake

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Polarized views and worries about COVID-19 vaccination had spillover effects on flu vaccination in adults, according to researchers who examined data over two pandemic years on both vaccines by state.The authors of the study say the findings are a warning of declining trust in public heath, which comes at a vulnerable time as eased COVID-19 measures put populations at risk for the return of disease threats such as flu.

Late-season flu activity is still under way in some parts of the United States, and health officials are closely watching Australia, where an early-season surge is already worse than some of the country's pre–COVID pandemic flu seasons.The group, based at University of California-Los Angeles Health Services, published its findings yesterday in a letter to the New England Journal of Medicine.Erosion in faith seen in clinical practiceFor their observational study, the group looked at Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data on uptake for both vaccines though Jan 2022.During the first pandemic year, flu vaccination rates held steady.

In the second pandemic year, however, when COVID-19 vaccines were widely available and promoted, flu vaccination rates fell 4.5 percentage points (from 43.7% to 39.2%) in states with below-average COVID-19 vaccination rates.In contrast, the researchers saw a positive spillover effect on flu vaccination in states that had strong COVID-19 vaccine uptake, with an increase that averaged 3.8 percentage points (from 49.0% to 52.8%).Uptake of both vaccines by state were highly variable.

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