Best Life: Boosting flu vaccine rates with virtual reality

Best Life: Doctors boosting virtual realty to encourage flu shots

ATLANTA, Ga. (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- According to the Centers for Disease Control, less than half of adults over 18 get a flu shot every year. Now, there is a virtual reality program that shows you what could happen if you skip the flu vaccine.

As the world watches infection rates for COVID-19 rise, there’s been another virus that has been circulating for decades. The flu causes tens of thousands of deaths every year, but vaccination rates have been low.

“Eighteen to 49-year-old adults, young adults typically, don’t get the flu shot,” stated Glen Nowak, Ph.D., Director of the Grady Center for Health Communications at the University of Georgia.

In fact, about 70% of people in that age group don’t.

Best life: boosting flu vaccine

“I’ve just been too lazy to go do it,” shared Carter Chapman.

Now, researchers have developed a virtual reality experience to show people the serious and sometimes deadly consequences of not getting the flu vaccine.

“We’re able to get you to very realistic experience future negative consequences without paying the physical costs,” explained Sunjoo Ahn, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Advertising at the University of Georgia.

In a study, they found most people who took part in the interactive virtual reality experience, had a higher intention of getting the flu shot than those who watched a 2D video.

“When they vaccinate, it’s not just about them, but it’s also about the people very close to them,” said Ahn.

For Carter, who use to get the flu vaccine every year before he entered college, the virtual reality experience made a difference.

“Kind of reminded me why I get the flu vaccine in the first place,” said Carter.

The team’s goal is to have this available in a clinical setting where patients can learn why vaccines are important. Misinformation about the flu vaccine and COVID has been circling the internet. One claim made was that getting the flu shot increases someone’s risk of contracting COVID-19. There is no evidence of that.

Contributors to this news report include: Milvionne Chery, Producer; and Roque Correa, Editor and Videographer. Copyright 2020 WMC. All rights reserved.