One of the things that doesn't get bandied about much in these surveys regarding who will partake of the flu vaccine is cost. Having health insurance is not necessarily going to get folks a no-additional cost vaccine. If you're a military dependent, you're last in line for those no-cost vaccines unless you're high risk. That means that most years, my children get their vaccinations at the the local health clinic for a cost. It's not cheap; oh, I know, at the health clinic, it's 15 dollars, but that adds up. If you get the flu shot at Walmart, it's 24 bucks a head. Given a choice between buying 24 dollars worth (times 3) of food or three shots, I think many people whose budgets are stretched are going to opt for the food. We're waiting to see if the military opens it up to all dependents (usually happens mid-October, first part of November). I'd rather not wait, but given a choice between 72 dollars now or no cost in a couple weeks, the frugal me says wait. It's a risk, but it's not a risk that's easy to quantify.
Each year, my family gets vaccinated against the flu. We've never had any adverse effects, and I believe protecting my children and other people (by hopefully keeping us from spreading the flu to others) is important. I know that people who don't vaccinate also want to protect their children but may have made different risk assessments. I'm all for individual choice; I just hope that it's predicated on factual information rather than those ever-abundant myths as well as a recognition that we are really, really bad at assessing risks.
If the government wants everyone over the age of 6 months to be protected against the flu, then I think vaccines should be made available to all for no cost. In fact, I think that if protection against these infectious diseases is so important, than all should be protected at no additional cost. Sure, there'd still be profit in it for the pharmaceuticals; they'd sell their product to the government, and of course, the government providing this service to all its citizens would reinforce the committed anti-vaccine folks' belief that there is a conspiracy between governments and industry to poison our population, but lets remember that these folks are the same ones who thing the government is using planes to keep mercury levels high so that autism rates don't drop and make it clear that it really was the thimerosal in the vaccines that did it. Face it, with these folks, there's no winning.
My hope is that folks as they think about whether to get the vaccine or not won't have to decide literally between eating or getting those vaccines for their families. If we, as a society, really care, we'll make sure no one has to make that distinction. But, of course, if we really cared, everyone would be going to bed tonight with a full belly and a sense of security.
It seems to me we've a lot a work to do, all the way around.
Oh, and those anti-vaxxers who insist doctors aren't vaccinating are, not surprisingly, wrong:
"In a separate NFID online survey of 400 physicians, conducted in mid-September, an overwhelming 90 percent said they planned to get vaccinated. Three percent remained uncertain and less than 2 percent of doctors said they would not get vaccinated.
In addition, most doctors recommend flu shots to their families, friends and patients, the survey found."