Just 40 pct US adults 'absolutely certain' about getting H1N1 vaccine

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Washington, October 3 (ANI): A new survey carried out by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) has revealed that just 40 per cent of adults are "absolutely certain" that they will get the H1N1 vaccine for themselves, and 51 per cent of parents are "absolutely certain" that they will get the vaccine for their children.

Through the survey, the polling for which was done from September 14-20 this year, the research team examined the reasoning among those who said they would not get the vaccine or might not.

About 60 per cent adults were not "absolutely certain" that they would get the H1N1 vaccine for themselves, including 41 per cent who said they would not get it, 6 per cent who said they did not know whether they would get it, and 11 per cent who said that they were planning to get it but might change their mind.

About four in ten parents were not "absolutely certain" that they would get the vaccine for their children, including 21 per cent who would not get it, 7 per cent who did not know, and 16 per cent who said they were planning to get it but might change their mind.

If there were people in their community who were sick or dying from H1N1, roughly six in ten adults who said they did not think they would get the vaccine would change their mind and get it for themselves.

About the same percentage of parents, that is 60 per cent, who said they did not think they would get the vaccine for their children would change their minds if H1N1 was causing sickness or death in their community.

"These findings suggest that public health officials need to be prepared for a surge in demand for the H1N1 vaccine if the H1N1 flu becomes more severe," said Robert J. Blendon, Professor of Health Policy and Political Analysis at HSPH.

Thirty per cent of those not "absolutely certain" they would get the H1N1 vaccine cited their fears about getting side effects from the vaccine as the reason.

Twenty-eight per cent of such people said that they did not think they were at risk of getting a serious case of the illness.

About 26 per cent people said that they thought they could get medication to treat H1N1 if they did get sick.

Thirty-eight per cent of the parents who were not "absolutely sure" they would get the vaccine said that they were concerned about side effects of the vaccine.

Thirty-three per cent of such people said that they were concerned that their children could get other illnesses from the vaccine.

About 31 per cent said that they did not trust public health officials to provide correct information about the safety of the vaccine.

"There's still a lot of uncertainty about what people will ultimately do in terms of getting the vaccine. If public health officials want to encourage a larger number of people to get vaccinated this fall, they will need to address the public's concerns in the coming weeks," said Blendon.

At this point in time, only about a third (33%) of the public sees the H1N1 vaccine as very safe "generally for most people to take." By comparison, the figure is 57% for the seasonal flu vaccine. A smaller fraction of the public thinks the H1N1 vaccine is very safe for particular groups to take, including children ages 6 months to 2 years (18%) and pregnant women (13%). The Centers for Disease Control is encouraging these groups, among others, to get the vaccine as early as possible.

The surveyors found that public concern about a fall or winter outbreak of H1N1 had risen since June.

Roughly 76 per cent of the public believed that there would be widespread cases of H1N1 this fall or winter with people getting very sick, an increase from June when only 59 per cent felt the same way.

More people were also concerned that they or someone in their immediate family would get sick from H1N1 during the next 12 months, 52 per cent in later September as compared to 38 per cent in June.

Roughly 64 per cent people thought that public health officials' concerns about a possible outbreak had been justified, while 31 per cent thought that they had been overblown.

The survey was part of a series of polls about the way that Americans, and their institutions are responding to the H1N1 flu outbreak. (ANI)

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