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Report: Flu Shots, COVID-19 Vaccine and Holiday Gatherings

Winter Wellness Survey Comparing Behavior and Opinions of Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X and Medicare Beneficiaries (65+)

Families and friends are beginning to deck the halls, but the holiday season’s usual cheer is shifting to anxiety around social gatherings. According to the new Winter Wellness Survey, Americans say their health safety concerns will continue to increase with flu and COVID-19 spreading in communities across the country. GoHealth recently commissioned 1,550 online interviews through a third-party survey tool from November 25 through November 30, 2020 to understand flu shot participation, openness to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, and social gathering plans for the upcoming holiday.


Those under 65 are concerned about getting the flu and COVID-19 at the same time. (56% of Gen Z, 57% of Millennials, 60% of Gen X)


40% of Medicare beneficiaries (65+) plan to get the COVID-19 vaccine, representing the highest of the groups.


Across all generations, most respondents plan to continue safety protocols after a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available.


70% of Medicare beneficiaries (65+) have already had their flu shot this year, compared to 41% of Gen Z, 43% of Millennials, and 39% of Gen X.


Of those under 65, half say that cost will influence their decision to get the COVID-19 vaccine. (61% of Gen Z, 58% of Millennials, 50% of Gen X)


1 in 3 Gen Zers, Millennials and Gen Xers plan to visit with family indoors for the holidays this year.


Seventy percent of Medicare beneficiaries (65+) had already received the flu vaccine as of November 30, 2020. Of those younger than 65, less than half received the vaccine in the same period (41% of Gen Z, 43% of Millennials, and 39% of Gen X). When asked if this year’s flu shot is considered their first, Medicare beneficiaries (65+) were more likely than their counterparts to say yes (59% versus 19% of Gen Z, 27% of Millennials, and 43% of Gen X).

Gen Z (18-23)Millennials (24-39)Gen X (40-55)Medicare Beneficiaries (65+)
Those that did get a flu shot last year.65%60%56%75%
Those that have or will get a flu shot this year

(Already Received; Plan to Get)


(41%; 25%)


(43%; 28%)


(39%; 25%)


(70%; 7%)

Flu Shots Mistaken as a COVID-19 Remedy

Older generations are taking more precautions this year. Still, apprehensions and even confusion about the flu shot are apparent among younger generations. Gen Z, Millennials, and Gen X were equally likely to believe that the flu shot would prevent COVID-19 (35% of Gen Z, 35% of Millennials, 38% of Gen X). At the same time, only eight percent of Medicare beneficiaries (65+) agreed.

Many Will Continue to Not Receive the Annual Flu Shot

Among Gen Z, Millennials, and Gen X, more than a quarter say they don’t plan to get a flu shot this year. Of which, a near majority (68% of Gen Z, 80% of Millennial, 78% of Gen X) say they usually don’t get the annual flu shot and more than half also report concerns that it would only increase their risk of illness (55% of Gen Z, 56% of Millennials, 61% of Gen X).

And While a Majority Will Continue to Practice COVID-19 Safety Protocols, More than One in Five Gen Z and Millennials Plan to Ease Up After Receiving the Flu Shot

  • After receiving the flu shot, one in 4 Gen Zers (24%) and one in five Gen Zers (21%) plan to be less strict about social distancing with family, friends, and while in public.
  • Only 1 in 10 (12%) Gen X and 1 in 20 (5%) Medicare beneficiaries (65+) said the same.

Despite flu shot preference, more than half of those younger than 65 are concerned about co-infection or getting the flu and COVID-19 at the same time (56% of Gen Z, 57% of Millennials, 60% of Gen X). Thirty-six percent of Medicare beneficiaries (65+) said the same, perhaps because they are the ones taking the most safety precautions to avoid risk of infection.

COVID-19 Testing More Prevalent in Younger Generations

While Medicare beneficiaries (65+) are taking the necessary precautions, they are the least likely of the group to have been tested for COVID-19. For those that have been tested more than once, Gen Z (20%) and Millennials (17%) have been tested almost double the number of Gen X (9%) and Medicare beneficiaries (10%).

Have you been tested for COVID-19?  Gen Z (18-23)Millennials (24-39)Gen X (40-55)Medicare Beneficiaries (65+)
Yes, I’ve been tested once32%34%33%22%
Yes, I’ve been tested more than once20%17%9%10%
I don’t know3%1%1%0%

COVID-19 Vaccine: Who Will Take It and When?

While the country awaits FDA authorization over the COVID-19 vaccine, many are determining their comfortability on receiving the vaccine. Forty percent of Medicare beneficiaries (65+) plan to get the COVID-19 vaccine once it is released and is available to them, and 36% will choose to wait. Gen X, a group made up of those aged 40 to 55, were the most likely to either say no or be unsure (42% versus 32% of Gen Z, 26% of Millennials, 24% of Medicare beneficiaries (aged 65+). And for those that either said they wouldn’t get the vaccine or were unsure, more than half of Gen Z (60%) and Millennials (53%) said they would still decline the vaccine even if the cost was 100% covered by their health insurance.

For those that are open to getting the vaccine but intend to wait, over half agreed the top reasons to delay include: wanting to see if the first version works, concerns around if the vaccine is safe or has side effects, and desire to wait for a later version. For the same group, over half of Gen Z, Millennials and Gen X say they want to wait to see how much it would cost them (61% of Gen Z, 58% of Millennials, 50% of Gen X).

Will you get the COVID-19 vaccination once it’s available?  Gen Z (18-23)Millennials (24-39)Gen X (40-55)Medicare Beneficiaries (65+)
Yes, as soon as it’s available34%35%39%40%
Yes, but not immediately34%28%19%36%
I don’t know10%11%19%12%

Despite COVID-19 vaccine preference, many will continue to practice personal safety protocols, such as wearing a mask, frequently washing hands, or practicing social distancing, even after a vaccine becomes available (49% of Gen Z, 51% of Millennials, 66% of Gen X, 69% of Medicare beneficiaries (65+)).

The 2020 Holiday Season

The holiday season is a special time of year. Traditions and family lighten the days spent gathered together. But as 2020 draws to a close, things once commonplace are less familiar. One in 3 Millennials (38%), Gen X’ers (39%) and Gen Zers (33%) are planning to visit with family at an inside gathering for the holidays this year. In contrast, 38% of Medicare beneficiaries (65+) don’t plan to see their family at all. Among the group, they are most likely to have concerns around contracting the flu or COVID-19 holiday gatherings (45% versus 27% of Gen Z, 32% of Millennials, 35% of Gen X).

Whether families decide to visit in-person or on-camera this year, our research shows concerns for public health continue to be at the forefront on everyone’s minds. Whether you are 25 or 65 years old, it is necessary to take the proper precautions to keep yourself, family, and friends safe and healthy.

Additional Resources

CDC Guidelines & Alerts for COVID-19

CDC Guidelines for Holiday Gathering

Survey Methodology

GoHealth commissioned 1,550 online interviews through a third-party survey tool from November 25 through November 30, 2020.

The survey polled respondents who met the following criteria:

  • Ages 18+
  • Resides in the US
  • Currently on Medicare, if 65 years old or older

Sample breakdown:

  • Gen Z: Age 18-23 (n=350)
  • Millennial: Age 24-39 (n=350)
  • Gen X: Age 40-55 (n=350)
  • Medicare Beneficiaries: Age 65+ and currently receiving Medicare benefits (n=500)

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