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New COVID Shot Uptake Lagging Behind Annual Flu Shot Rates

New COVID Shot Uptake Lagging Behind Annual Flu Shot Rates

Story Highlights

  • 29% have gotten new COVID-19 shot; 47% have gotten flu shot
  • Prior COVID-19 infection, safety concerns top reasons for not getting new shot
  • Near record-low 23% of Americans are worried about getting COVID-19

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Less than one-third of Americans, 29%, have gotten the new COVID-19 vaccine that was released this fall. In contrast, 47% of U.S. adults say they have gotten the annual flu shot this year.

Another 20% of U.S. adults indicate they plan to get the new COVID-19 shot, which could bring the level of current vaccination against COVID-19 to close to half of Americans, but that still falls below the combined 63% who have gotten or plan to get the flu shot.


These results are based on Gallup’s latest COVID-19 survey update, conducted Nov. 30-Dec. 7 with more than 6,000 adult members of Gallup’s probability-based panel.

Gallup had found that over seven in 10 U.S. adults had received the earlier versions of COVID-19 vaccines, which were first available to the public in late 2020 and early 2021. The past two years, booster shots to those initial vaccines were made available. The new shot can be given to people regardless of whether they have been previously vaccinated against COVID-19.

Older Americans, those aged 65 and older, are getting the updated COVID-19 shots at higher rates than the general population -- 46% have already done so. However, seniors are still more likely to have gotten the annual flu shot, with 68% saying they had.

This year, public health officials have also recommended that older Americans get vaccinated against respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV. To date, 22% of U.S. seniors have gotten an RSV vaccination.


In addition to age differences, vaccine intentions for both COVID-19 and flu differ by party identification, but more so for COVID-19.

  • Whereas nearly half of Democrats (48%) have gotten the updated COVID-19 shot, 20% of political independents and 10% of Republicans have.
  • Eighty-two percent of Republicans say they will not get the updated COVID-19 shot.
  • Sixty-one percent of Democrats, 38% of independents and 35% of Republicans have gotten the flu shot this year. Half of Republicans, 52%, say they will not do so.

Prior COVID-19 Infections, Safety Concerns Underlie Vaccine Hesitancy

Among the subset of U.S. adults who do not intend to receive the new COVID-19 shot, their primary reasons for not doing so are because they have had COVID-19 and believe they have antibodies (27%) and because of safety concerns about the vaccine (24%). The next most common reasons are because of questions about the effectiveness of the vaccine (18%) and because they don’t believe they would suffer serious health effects from the coronavirus (16%).

Smaller proportions under 10% say they distrust vaccines in general or are concerned about an allergic reaction to the vaccine.


Forty-two percent of Democratic holdouts say they do not intend to get the new COVID-19 shot because they have had COVID-19, a much larger percentage than for independents (26%) or Republicans (20%) who don’t plan to be vaccinated. Republicans who do not plan to get the COVID-19 vaccine are most likely to cite safety concerns (31%) as their primary reason.

Worry About COVID-19 Subdued; Public Sees Improving Situation

Americans may see less of a need to get vaccinated against COVID-19 because they are less worried about getting the illness and believe the situation is improving.

Twenty-three percent of U.S. adults are very or somewhat worried about getting COVID-19, which is near the low in Gallup’s trend. Concern had ticked up in the prior survey, conducted in August and September, from 18% to 27% before edging down this month.


The high point in worry was measured in separate July and August 2020 surveys, when the pandemic was still in its earlier stages and before a vaccine had been developed. The low point was 17% in June 2021, when cases were declining and the vaccine was widely available.

After a less optimistic assessment of the COVID-19 situation in the August/September survey, a majority of Americans, 53%, once again see the situation as getting better. Thirty-two percent say the situation is not changing, and 15% believe it is getting worse.

Still, Americans are not as positive as they were earlier this year, when 71% thought the situation was improving.


An analysis of the data shows that Americans who are more concerned about getting COVID-19, personally, or believe the situation is worsening in the country, are more likely to have gotten vaccinated or to plan to get vaccinated.

Forty-two percent of those who are worried about getting COVID-19 have gotten the new shot, compared with 34% who are not too worried and 15% who are not worried at all. All told, 73% of those who are worried have gotten vaccinated or plan to, compared with one in four among those who are not worried at all about getting the coronavirus.

Similarly, 42% who think the COVID-19 situation is getting worse have already gotten the updated shot, compared with roughly a quarter of those who think the situation is improving or not changing.


Bottom Line

Americans seem to be heeding public health officials’ recommendation to get annual flu shots to a greater degree than they are complying with their advice to get the latest COVID-19 vaccine. This may reflect lessened worry about the COVID-19 situation as it pertains to them personally and to the country more broadly. Gallup did not ask respondents about their concern with getting the flu or their assessment of the flu situation in the U.S., so it is not possible to know if greater levels of flu vaccination stem from greater worry about the flu situation than the COVID-19 situation. Greater rates of flu vaccination may reflect that that procedure is more of an established routine for Americans than getting annual COVID-19 shots.

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