Reports of flu-related deaths in Indiana fuel doubts about the efficacy of the flu vaccine

Two individuals have died from the flu in Indiana, according to the Indiana Department of Health. The department has urged residents to get vaccinated against influenza, highlighting that there were more than 270 deaths in the previous flu season. The announcement sparked a social media debate on the efficacy and safety of the flu vaccine. While some social media users shared personal experiences of getting sick despite getting the flu shot or having negative reactions to it, supporters of the vaccine argued it has a 40 to 60 percent effectiveness in the general population and can significantly prevent hospitalizations and deaths. Skeptics likened those statistics to a coin flip and expressed that they would rather abstain from taking the vaccine in order to avoid the “junk” it contains.

Risk level: Medium

Recommendation: Though comments are relatively few in number, lessening the risk, these types of online conversations may promote vaccine hesitancy in the midst of flu season. It is recommended doctors in Indiana be prepared for questions about the safety and efficacy of the flu vaccine. Talking points may emphasize that the flu vaccine reduces the risk of getting sick with the flu, reduces the risk of flu-related hospitalization, and reduces children’s risk of developing life-threatening influenza. Additional messaging may note that flu vaccine ingredients are safe. The CDC recommends flu vaccination for everyone six months and older, with early vaccination advised.