Back in 2015 before President Donald Trump had announced his intentions to run for the highest elected office in the country, he announced an intention of a different sort.
On Sirius XM’s “Opie and Anthony” show, he stated that he would not
be getting a flu vaccination that year, using some fairly strong verbiage in the process.
Here is, in part, what Trump said in response to a query about whether or not he would be getting a flu shot himself in 2015:
“I’ve never had one… I don’t like the idea of injecting bad stuff into [my] body. I have friends that religiously get the flu shot and then they get the flu… I’ve seen a lot of reports that the last flu shot is virtually totally ineffective.” He went on to add, “I’ve passed on it, but that doesn’t mean [other] people should.”
At the time, Donald Trump’s opinion on flu vaccinations was seen as nothing more than the opinion of a celebrity. Now that he is President of the United States, however, his opinion carries more weight and it is this fact that has raised concerns across the country.
Thanks in large part to conflicting information—online and elsewhere—on the flu vaccine, each year there is a fairly significant portion of the population that chooses not to receive the influenza vaccine, even though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends
that almost all individuals over the age of 6 months receive the shot each year.
In 2015, NPR reported in its NPR-Truven Health Analytics Health Poll
that just under 40% of adults had chosen not to get vaccinated. When the surveyors followed up to ask why those respondents had chosen not to get the flu vaccine, nearly half (48%) responded that it was not necessary for them to be vaccinated, while about a third responded that they were either concerned about risks associated with the shot or that they feared the vaccination would cause them to contract influenza. In addition, about 1 in 10 said they did not bother to get vaccinated because they believed the vaccine was ineffective.
Although President Donald Trump’s previous skepticism on the flu vaccine was certainly not helpful in terms of encouraging individuals to be vaccinated, research indicates
that celebrity commentary on a topic makes it more likely that the audience will recall the message and be motivated to react to it.