Health Report- Virtual Reality program designed to show consequences to avoiding flu shot

Health Reports

According to the CDC, less than half of adults over 18 get a flu shot every year. Now, a virtual reality program 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.

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

In fact, about 70% of people in that age group do not.

“I’ve just been too lazy to go do it.” said 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 realistically experience future negative consequences without paying the physical costs.” said Sunjoo Ahn, Ph.D, Assoc. Professor of Advertising at 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.” Ahn said.

For Carter, who used 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.”

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