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Mount Sinai South Nassau "Truth in Medicine" Poll: A Majority of Metro Area Residents Would Get Novel Coronavirus Vaccine If One Were to Become Available

72 Percent Less Likely to Travel Overseas as a Result of Coronavirus Scare

Posted: Feb. 26, 2020
Mount Sinai South Nassau "Truth in Medicine" Poll: A Majority of Metro Area Residents Would Get Novel Coronavirus Vaccine If One Were to Become Available

More than half of metro area residents said they would get a vaccine to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus if one were to become available, according to the results of the latest Mount Sinai South Nassau “Truth in Medicine” public health poll.

As the death toll around the world continues to rise and millions of Chinese residents remain quarantined or under observation, concern about a possible U.S. outbreak of the novel coronavirus (recently named COVID-19 by the World Health Organization) remains high, according to the Truth in Medicine Poll, sponsored by Bethpage. Some 55 percent of residents polled said they would get a coronavirus vaccine if one is developed.

Some 62 percent of respondents to the poll—conducted among 600 metro area residents from February 5-9—said they were highly concerned about the coronavirus outbreak, with 72 percent reporting that they are less likely to travel overseas due to the scare.

  • 48 percent said they are less likely to take mass transit
  • 46 percent said they are less likely to attend large gatherings
  • 72 percent agree visitor screening should be required before entering a hospital or public place

While many respondents are worried about coronavirus, the flu has remained a much more significant risk to public health in the United States, with at least 16,000 deaths reported since the start of the current flu season.

“It remains puzzling why so many people are not taking the potentially life-saving influenza vaccine,” said Aaron Glatt, MD, Chair of the Department of Medicine at Mount Sinai South Nassau and a national expert on infectious diseases. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there have been more than 29 million cases of the flu since October in the United States, with 16,000 deaths, including 105 children, during what appears to be the worst flu season in a decade.

“The flu currently remains a much more dangerous threat to most New Yorkers than the coronavirus. The flu is a potentially fatal disease, and while not perfect, the flu vaccine is a very safe vaccine and it remains the single best defense against the flu,” Dr. Glatt said.

COVID-19 spreads in similar ways to the flu or common cold, but there is still much health experts do not know about this virus. The CDC warns that COVID-19 may have long-lasting impact, and, while researchers are working on a vaccine to combat it, one is not currently available.

Results of the Truth in Medicine Poll indicate that metro area residents do not have a full understanding of how deadly the flu can be. When asked how many people they thought had died from the flu in the United States this year, 48 percent of the poll respondents put the number at or below 1,000. The CDC, meanwhile, estimates between 16,000 and 30,000 people have died of the flu this season.

Although residents view the flu as a more serious threat to the nation than COVID-19, with 44 percent saying the flu is the biggest risk to the U.S population and 21 percent saying the coronavirus is the biggest threat, respondents actually expressed more concern about the impact of coronavirus than flu on their family. 54 percent say they are highly concerned about the impact of coronavirus on their family and 51 percent are highly concerned about the flu hitting their family.
“From a public health standpoint, a member of the general public who has not visited China should not be concerned about contracting coronavirus at this point,” said Adhi Sharma, MD, Mount Sinai South Nassau’s Chief Medical Officer. However, physicians’ offices, urgent care centers, and hospital emergency rooms are being urged to obtain a full travel history from all patients, whether they are presenting with symptoms or not.

“There is a flu epidemic on Long Island and across the state. Our hospital and many others are inundated with the flu and seeing more cases than in previous years. Protect yourself. Standard precautions, such as good hand-washing and observing proper coughing and sneezing etiquette, are still the rule of thumb to prevent against the flu, coronavirus, and many other viruses,” Dr. Sharma said.

Of those who responded in the poll, 75 percent said they had gotten the flu vaccine while 84 percent said they frequently washed their hands as a way to protect themselves against viruses during the flu season. Another 27 percent said they used herbal supplements, 29 percent said they stay home as much as possible, and 45 percent said they try to avoid being around sick people.

“The flu shot is considered the single best preventive method against the flu, so if you haven’t been vaccinated, yet, please do so; it is not too late to get vaccinated,” concluded Dr. Sharma.

Respondents to the poll were fairly confident that the federal and state governments are adequately prepared to deal with a potentially large-scale outbreak of the novel coronavirus in the United States, with 50 percent of metro area residents saying they are confident government officials are ready to protect them. Some 36 percent said they felt the government is not prepared and 14 percent were unsure or did not answer that question.

Overall, women were more likely than men to get a coronavirus vaccine if one were to become available. Younger respondents were more likely to seek it than older respondents. New York City respondents were more likely to get the coronavirus vaccine than Long Island residents.

 The Mount Sinai South Nassau Truth in Medicine Poll, sponsored by Bethpage Federal Credit Union, is a quarterly survey of Long Island and New York City residents that aims to gather data about attitudes on key public health topics and help spur public education to improve public health. The poll was conducted February 5-9 via both landlines and cell phones of 600 residents in New York City and on Long Island. Poll findings are subject to a sampling error of plus or minus 3.9 percent.

“Like thousands of other businesses and organizations across Long Island the spread of flu has had a negative impact on our workforce, productivity, and members,” said Linda Armyn of Bethpage Federal Credit Union, which underwrites the cost of the poll. “If the novel coronavirus were to spread across the U.S. it would be damaging to the nation’s economy and health care system, so we join Mount Sinai South Nassau in encouraging our members, employees, and communities we serve to follow the advice of medical professionals to stay healthy.”

The Truth in Medicine Poll was conducted as part of the hospital’s mission of improving education around critical public health issues. The poll was conducted by a nationally recognized, independent polling firm, LJR Custom Strategies, which has offices in Washington and New Orleans. LJR has conducted more than 2,000 studies for a broad spectrum of health care, business, education, cultural, and political clients in almost every state in the country and around the world.

Mount Sinai South Nassau began conducting the public health poll in January 2017. This is Mount Sinai South Nassau’s first public health poll of 2020. Previous polls have focused on the holiday stress, HPV vaccine, the legalization of recreational marijuana, vaccines and supplements, antibiotic use and misuse, screen time and others. For more information about the polls, please visit www.southnassau.org/truth

The Long Island flagship hospital of the Mount Sinai Health System, Mount Sinai South Nassau is designated a Magnet® hospital by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) for outstanding nursing care.  Mount Sinai South Nassau is one of the region’s largest hospitals with 455 beds, more than 900 physicians and 3,500 employees. Located in Oceanside, New York, the hospital is an acute-care, not-for-profit teaching hospital that provides state-of-the-art care in cardiac, oncologic, orthopedic, bariatric, pain management, mental health and emergency medicine.
In addition to its extensive outpatient specialty centers, Mount Sinai South Nassau provides emergency and elective angioplasty, and offers Novalis Tx™ and Gamma Knife® radiosurgery technologies. Mount Sinai South Nassau operates the only Trauma Center on the South Shore of Nassau County verified by the American College of Surgeons as well as Long Island’s only free-standing, 9-1-1 receiving Emergency Department in Long Beach. It is also is a designated Stroke Center by the New York State Department of Health and Comprehensive Community Cancer Center by the American College of Surgeons, and is an accredited center of the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery association and Quality Improvement Program.

In addition, the hospital has been awarded the Joint Commission’s gold seal of approval for disease-specific care for stroke, hip and knee replacement, heart failure, bariatric surgery, wound care and end-stage renal disease. For more information, visit www.southnassau.org.