AUBURN – A recent Ask Alabama poll showed that only 34 percent of respondents told Auburn University pollsters that they had already received flu shots, with another 15 percent saying they planned to get one.
These results were based on a statewide survey of 614 adults interviewed by telephone during the period Jan. 4 through Jan. 14. They indicate that about half of the state’s adult population is unprotected from the seasonal or H1N1 strains of influenza, even though public health officials strongly promoted inoculation and warn that the viral threat could grow in the spring.
Of those responding to the poll, 53 percent of men and 44 percent of women report having been inoculated or having plans to be inoculated. The two sexes were comparable in reporting whether they have already had their shot, with men gaining their advantage mostly in their plans to get a shot. Older adults and households without children are somewhat more likely to have gotten flu shots than are younger householders and those with children. Affluent householders who feel good about the economy are more likely than the poor and economically struggling to have received a flu shot or to have plans to get one. The inoculation rate for African-American adults was particularly low. Only 25 percent have already received shots and just 14 percent plan to get them.
Alabama adults may be deciding to skip flu shots because they don’t expect to contract the virus. In fact, just 17 percent of poll respondents told the Auburn researchers that anyone in their household had contracted influenza this season. However, a higher rate of flu hit households with children.
“Almost one-fourth, or 24 percent, reported a case of flu,” said David Hill, associate director of the Center for Governmental Services. “The higher rate of flu in households with children may possibly be explained by the lower rates of inoculation in those households.”
The poll did not distinguish between seasonal and H1N1innoculations in asking about flu shots. The Ask Alabama survey results are based on telephone interviews conducted with a stratified random sample of 614 adult householders from Jan. 4 through Jan. 14. The sample’s geographic, gender, race and age distributions were weighted to be proportionate to the United States Census Bureau’s data for Alabama’s adult householders. Adults were defined as those 18 years of age and older.
Patrick Rose, manager of the Center’s Survey Research Laboratory that conducted the interviews, said that poll results based on the full statewide sample have a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points.
The Ask Alabama Poll is conducted by the Center for Governmental Services, a unit of Auburn University Outreach that provides research, consulting and training to government agencies, not-for-profit associations and private sector clients.