Q&A of the Day – How many Floridians get a flu shot?

Q&A of the Day – How many Floridians get a flu shot?

Each day I’ll feature a listener question that’s been submitted by one of these methods.

Email: brianmudd@iheartmedia.com

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Today’s entry: This ongoing push for everyone to be vaccinated, for flu, then COVID, is disturbing. Two questions for you. Can the government try to force us to get a vaccine and how many people usually get a flu shot?

Bottom Line: Whether it’s the flu vaccine or a forthcoming COVID-19 vaccine, governments can encourage you to get a vaccine, but they can’t force you to get one...unless. I’ll come back around to those exceptions in a moment. First, here’s a look at how many Americans usually get a flu vaccine. The CDC tracks this data producing annual reports based on demographics. The most recent available is for the 2019 season. Here’s the percentage of people who had a flu shot last year:

  • 63% for children
  • 45% for adults

The prominent reason for most children receiving the flu vaccine but most adults not having one is schooling. In Florida, we’re far less likely to get a flu shot. Here’s the breakout in our state:

  • 55% for children
  • 38% for adults

Florida has the fifth lowest percentage for children and third lowest for adults. That might surprise some considering Florida’s older demographics. While we clearly won’t know how many Floridians will go for a COVID vaccine until we get there, one might imagine that if Floridians are among the least likely to get a flu shot – we'd be among the more reluctant to get a COVID vaccine as well. So back to what a government can and can’t mandate.

No government, federal or local, has the ability to force you to get any vaccine. What they can do however, is place mandates on use of government facilities or services. This is how public schools have been able to mandate specific vaccinations of students to enroll in schools and some government jobs require vaccinations (including the seasonal flu shot). In this regard, it’s possible we could enter unchartered territory. For example, would public airports potentially mandate evidence of a COVID vaccination prior to travel? What about entering a courthouse? Will local governments issue mandates for their facilities? That’s the view of the possible. The Supreme Court has previously ruled in favor of government facilities mandating vaccinations. I suspect it’s more likely that temperature checks will become the norm in lieu of mandated vaccinations, after all most flu vaccines miss the mark as it is, however given the unprecedented actions taken by governments during this pandemic – little would surprise me.

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