Floridians have low vaccination rate as push for COVID-19 vaccine continues, new study finds

Investigations

TAMPA (WFLA) – As we wait for a coronavirus vaccine, doctors stress, there’s another life-saving vaccine on the market right now.  We’re talking about the flu shot.  Unfortunately, a new study finds, Floridians aren’t a big fan of vaccines in general.

We’re about to enter flu season next month with coronavirus still very much alive in many communities. Public health professionals believe these two diseases coming together could quickly overwhelm our health care system.

A new WalletHub study ranked states that vaccinate the most. Overall, Florida performs poorly, coming in at number 41. The flu vaccination rate for young people is even worse. WalletHub puts Florida at number 47.

8 On Your Side has four quick facts about the flu vaccine.

  • It does not and cannot cause the flu.
  • It’s about 50% effective in preventing the main strains of the virus.
  • Even if you get the flu, it’ll likely be less severe if you’ve had the shot.
  • You can get the flu and COVID-19 at the same time.

8 On Your Side hit the streets to take your questions about the current flu vaccine and future COVID-19 vaccine.

We asked Dr. John Greene, the Chief of Infectious Diseases at Moffitt to answer common questions.  

Question:  Will the flu shot take away the chances of someone getting COVID-19?

Dr. John Greene: “No, they do not cross react so you could still get both.”

Question: If you get a coronavirus vaccine and the flu vaccine, how would those interact together?

Dr. John Greene: “So we take vaccines all the time together and there should be no interaction, they give you immunity against each virus that the vaccine is geared to.”

Question:  When should I be getting the flu shot?

Dr. John Greene: “The best time to get the flu shot is the first week of October.”

Question:  If a COVID-19 vaccine comes, when should I get that?

Dr. John Greene: “You should get it as soon as it comes out because the sooner the better so you can have an immune system to protect you.”

So the big point: Getting the flu shot will help in the fight against COVID-19.  The Florida Department of Health is trying to get out that message across different platforms.  They say they have an adequate supply of the vaccine for this upcoming flu season.

Here’s their full statement to 8 On Your Side: 

“FDOH follows Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Advisory Committee of Immunization Practices guidelines which strongly recommends that all people ages 6 months and older receive a yearly flu immunization to help protect themselves from developing serious complications related to being diagnosed with influenza.

The Immunizations Section has worked to ensure that Florida has an adequate supply of flu vaccine for the 2020-2021 flu season and we are working with Federally Qualified Health Centers, CHDs and Vaccines for Children enrolled private providers to ensure that flu vaccination is provided and promoted within their facilities and practices.

In addition, the Department, along with our County Health Departments, is partnering with state and local organizations and utilizing various messaging platforms to reach as many Floridians as possible to highlight the importance of receiving the flu vaccine.

We remain committed to ensuring that every Florida family has access to the resources and knowledge needed to help limit the spread of infectious diseases in our state while living their healthiest lives.”

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