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More Americans say they'll get a flu shot this fall due to COVID-19

From October 1, 2019 to April 4, the flu killed from 24,000 to 62,000 Americans and caused at least 410,000 hospitalizations, according to the CDC.

Susan Morse, Managing Editor

As the coronavirus continues into the fall, hospitals are looking at dealing with a combined flu and COVID-19 season. 

Close to 5.5 million people in the United States have been infected with COVID-19 and over 170,000 people have died, according to Johns Hopkins.

Vaccine trials are currently in development, with a candidate expected to go forward as early as January 2021.

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The flu kills thousands each year. From October 1, 2019 through April 4, the flu was responsible for 24,000 to 62,000 deaths and 410,000 to 740,000 hospitalizations in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC promotes a vaccine to avoid getting the flu, but statistically, less than half of Americans get one. During the 2018-2019 flu season, 45.3% of adults got vaccinated, an increase of 8.2% from the 2017-2018 flu season.

But COVID-19 has added impetus for getting a flu vaccine, according to a UnitedHealthcare study. The study found that an additional 30% of Americans plan to get a flu shot this season due to the coronavirus.
 
In July, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it was taking steps to prepare for the possible spread of H1N1 swine influenza viruses.

WHY THIS MATTERS

Vaccine prevention will help avoid hospitalizations during a time when hospitals in potential surge areas would see an increase in coronavirus cases.

THE STUDY

The 2020 UnitedHealthcare Wellness Checkup Survey found that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected members' behavior, such as preferences for the type of exercise they favor. Americans cite walking as their preferred method of exercise during the pandemic. 

Most survey respondents who work out said walking (68%) has been their preferred method of exercise since COVID-19 emerged, followed by running (28%), body-weight exercises (23%), cycling (21%) and weight training at home (18%). 

As for eating habits, 30% of respondents said their diet is worse now than before COVID-19, while 21% said their nutrition choices have improved. 

In regard to common workplace norms, one-third (34%) of employed respondents said they would stop shaking hands at work no matter the circumstance, 35% would use an alternative physical greeting such as a fist or elbow bump, and 31% said they would continue handshakes despite potential risk of COVID-19 infection.

THE LARGER TREND 

UnitedHealthcare, the nation's largest insurer, said the study shows that the majority of employees say wellness programs have improved their health and productivity.

More than three-quarters (77%) of survey respondents who are employed and have access to wellness programs said the initiatives have made a positive impact on their health. Nearly half (48%) said the programs motivated them to pay more attention to their health, 38% lowered stress, 36% said they increased physical activity, and 33% reported improved sleep.

Twitter: @SusanJMorse
Email the writer: susan.morse@himssmedia.com