Myths and misconceptions about influenza and influenza vaccination are major barriers to better protection of healthy and high-risk persons. Some common examples are:
‘The flu is just a common cold!’
‘I had the flu last year, so I cannot get it this year.’
‘You can get the flu from a flu shot.’
‘Flu shots offer little protection anyway.’
Healthcare providers and public health authorities play a key role in informing and educating their patients and the public about the true dangers of influenza and the benefits of vaccination.
A second important barrier is the lack of organized programmes offering easy access to vaccines. Offering vaccination in non-traditional venues could be a solution. The majority of all patients are vaccinated at doctor’s offices, but other important venues could be walk-in clinics, work sites and even pharmacies.
The third most important barrier is ‘forgetting to take the vaccine’. Healthcare providers could therefore use patient reminders and other strategies to increase patient demand for vaccination. Individual persons, however, should recognize their own responsibility. Anyone can ask his/her doctor to be vaccinated against influenza.