HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Surveys Show More Pandemic Flu Vacccine Available But Fewer Takers

In spite of the growing amount of H1N1 vaccine becoming available, two surveys indicate that over one-half of American adults report that they are not interested in becoming vaccinated. In addition, many parents will not be getting their children vaccinated. According to a Washington Post story by David Brown

[a]s of this week, 111 million doses of vaccine against the pandemic strain of H1N1 flu have been released to states and cities. Not all of it has been used. There have been no unusual or unexpected vaccine side effects reported.

As of Dec. 12, 11 states reported "widespread" flu activity (as measured by office visits, hospitalizations and other indicators), down from 14 the week before. During the last two weeks of October, in comparison, 48 states reported widespread activity. Speaking to reporters, Anne Schuchat, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, urged people to get vaccinated even though the flu outbreak is waning in many places. "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.

A survey done a week ago by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health found that 38 percent of children and 22 percent of adults who are pregnant, chronically ill or caring for young infants had gotten the vaccine. Both groups are in the "high priority" category established by the CDC. About 44 percent of high-priority adults, and 55 percent of all adults, said they did not intend to get the vaccine. About 35 percent of parents said they would not get it for their children. About 60 percent of parents cited the vaccine's safety as their main concern. Among high-priority adults, 38 percent mentioned safety as the reason they would pass on flu shots, with the belief they were not at risk or that the infection was less serious than anticipated as the main reason.

People who wanted the vaccine, however, were having an easier time finding it. In a survey taken at the start of November, only one-third of parents seeking vaccine for a child found it. In mid-December, three-quarters of parents who sought vaccine found it. As of last week, slightly more than half of adults seeking vaccination got it.

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