More H1N1 Vaccines Available In U.S., Many Americans Don’t Want Vaccination

While an increasing number of H1N1 (swine flu) vaccines are available in the U.S., “more than half of American adults say they still don’t want it, and one-third of parents say they don’t want their children to get it either, according to two surveys,” the
Washington Post reports. “As of this week, 111 million doses of vaccine against the pandemic strain of H1N1 flu have been released to states and cities. Not all have been used. There have been no unusual or unexpected vaccine side effects reported” (Brown, 12/23).

A telephone survey conducted Dec. 6 to 12 by the CDC, estimated about 40 million people had received the H1N1 vaccine, the Los Angeles Times’ “Booster Shots” blog reports. “About 40% of the vaccine doses went to children, with the coverage twice as high in children as in adults,” the blog writes.

A second poll, conducted by Harvard researchers Dec. 16 to 17, found  that 56 million Americans have received the H1N1 vaccine. It also “corroborated the CDC finding that children were more likely to receive the vaccine. Based on those findings,” Anne Schuchat, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said during a press briefing Tuesday that the agency believes around 60 million Americans have received the vaccine, according to the blog (Maugh, 12/22).

Most adults surveyed who reported they would not get the H1N1 vaccine reported “worries about safety or a lack of concern about getting infected,” the Boston Globe’s “White Coat Notes” blog reports. “Public health officials who want to increase vaccination rates will need to focus more attention on convincing people who most need it of its safety,” Robert  Blendon, director of the Harvard Opinion Research Program, said in a statement released with the poll. “Findings here – like past polls – suggest that beliefs about safety have been difficult to change for a segment of the public” (Cooney, 12/22).

“Booster Shots” adds: “Flu activity in this country has been declining rapidly. As of Friday, only 11 states – including California – were reporting widespread flu activity, with some others reporting regional activity” (12/22). Even so, Schuchat urged Americans to get vaccinated against the virus, the Washington Post writes. She also addressed the need for children under 10 to receive two doses of the vaccine. “‘There are a lot of unknowns, but the one thing we do know is that getting vaccinated will reduce the chance of you getting sick, and reduce the chance of the country going through a third wave’ of H1N1 spread,” she said (12/23).

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