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Only 1/3 in U.S. Plan to Get Swine Flu Vaccine

Most People at Risk of Severe Flu Don't Know It, Consumer Reports Poll Shows

By Daniel J. DeNoon
WebMD Health News

Reviewed By Louise Chang, MD

Sept. 30, 2009 -- Only a third of Americans plan to get the H1N1 swine flu vaccine, a Consumer Reports poll shows.

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One reason might be that 57% of adults with conditions that put them at risk of severe flu complications aren't aware of their risk of severe swine flu. Nearly a third of those polled said they had at least one of the health conditions that increase swine flu risk.

Risk awareness may be a key factor in vaccine acceptance. Sixty percent of those who know they're at risk said they'd definitely get a swine flu shot.

Aside from people not understanding risk factors for severe flu, other findings suggest that the CDC has its work cut out for it as it tries to convince people to get both their seasonal and pandemic flu shots.

Among the poll findings:

  • Only 35% of parents plan to have their child vaccinated against swine flu.
  • Nearly two-thirds of parents who don't plan to have their child vaccinated say they worry the swine flu vaccine is too new to be safe.
  • Overall, 28% of respondents are "not very" or "not at all" confident the swine flu vaccine is safe. An additional 10% say they don't know whether the vaccine is safe.
  • Although the CDC says vaccination is the most important weapon in the fight against flu, only 41% of parents think flu vaccination is "very important" in keeping kids healthy during flu season.
  • Most parents are at least "somewhat worried" that their kids will get swine flu. But 43% of parents are "not at all worried or "not too worried."
  • 39% of those who don't get flu shots worry about the vaccine's side effects -- or think the vaccine will give them the flu, even though this is a medical impossibility.
  • More than half of people who don't get flu shots think they'll never get the flu.

Attitudes may have changed in the weeks since the poll was taken. And what people say is often different from what they do.

And we'll soon know what happens. Swine flu vaccinations will begin the first week of October, and in most if not all of the U.S. there should be ample opportunities for vaccination by Thanksgiving.

The poll was designed by Consumer Reports and conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International.

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SOURCES: Consumer Reports National Research Center: "Flu and Seasonal Flu/Swine Flu Vaccination Poll Report."

News release, Consumer Reports.

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