Colorado Ranks Second Highest State Asking Questions About Vaccines- JustAnswer Study
On September 28th, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that flu shots reduced the number of doctor visits for flu-like illnesses by over 50 percent.
Yet apprehensions, myths, and doubts surrounding vaccines – and in particular flu shots – persist. On October 19th, JustAnswer, a website where people can connect with doctors and other professionals, reviewed tens of thousands of customer questions about flu shots spanning back to the start of 2015 in order to uncover changing attitudes about vaccinations.
Casual observers might think that vaccinations dominate the medical conversation especially given the controversy surrounding the link between vaccines and autism. In reality, there were more vaccination questions about relatively rare conditions like Japanese encephalitis than questions about more contentious early childhood vaccinations like MMR.
This point is further cemented when looking at the types of questions inside our medical category. Interestingly, we saw greater interest in neurological problems than vaccines. But whereas about one million U.S. adults are diagnosed with a chronic brain disorder each year, one hundred and forty million U.S. adults got a flu shot.
- There was a 52% increase in questions about vaccinations from 2016 to 2017.
- Allergies and hives together made up 41% of the most common reactions to flu shots. [Figure B]
- Of all vaccines, the vaccine for chickenpox was the most asked about, comprising 41% of total vaccine questions, while flu shots came in second with 13%.[Figure D]
- The volume of questions about Japanese encephalitis was higher than the volume of questions about common vaccines like rabies, MMR, and HPV. [Figure D]
- Residents of Pennsylvania asked the most vaccination questions relative to the state’s population.
- Kentucky saw an 800% increase in visitors to JustAnswer pages about vaccines from 2016 to 2017. [Figure C]
- Mississippi saw a 550% increase in visitors to JustAnswer pages about vaccines from 2016 to 2017, while South Dakota saw a 63% decrease. [Figure C]
- After controlling for population, the District of Columbia, Georgia, and Texas rounded out the top three states most interested in vaccines (pages visited) on JustAnswer.
- Vermont, Wyoming and Rhode Island had a higher percentage of questions about flu shot reactions than the three most populous states: California, Texas and Florida. [Figure A]
While the JustAnswer study found a large increase in questions about vaccinations from 2016 to 2017, most of these questions concerned immediate reactions to vaccines instead of the link between vaccines and developmental issues.
When zeroing in on regional trends, we found that interest in influenza and its side effects varies significantly by state, suggesting a difference in health resources, education programs, and media coverage across America.
To see additional trends, access the full report here: Flu Shot Study
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