Poll reveals that 43% of American adults undecided about getting the swine flu vaccine

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According to a new Consumer Reports poll, 43 percent of American adults say they're on the fence about getting the swine flu vaccine and just 34 percent of those polled plan on getting the swine flu vaccine when it becomes available. Additionally, a mere 35 percent of parents say they'll definitely have their children vaccinated. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all children over the age of 6 months get the vaccine.

Those are some of the results of the new Consumer Reports nationally representative poll, which was fielded September 2-7, less than two weeks before the FDA approved the swine flu vaccines from four of the five manufacturers on September 15. Consumer Reports asked Americans about flu vaccinations and their level of worry on the cusp of flu season, which officially begins October 4 but is already well underway in at least 21 states as a result of swine flu.

Surprisingly, many parents are not too concerned about the specter of seasonal flu and the H1N1 swine flu. Forty-three percent of parents told Consumer Reports they're not too worried about their kids getting swine flu and curiously 44 percent expressed concern that other parents would be overly worried.

Concerns about the newness of the swine flu vaccine may be driving some parents to say they'll take a wait and see attitude: Fifty percent of parents said they're holding off on making a decision about whether to vaccinate their kids while 14 percent said they will definitely not get their kids vaccinated. Sixty-five percent of those parents who are undecided or will opt out of the vaccine said that concerns about the newness of the vaccine and whether it had been tested enough were concerns.

Consumer Reports recommends that people in high risk groups for swine flu seriously consider vaccination when it becomes available. "This is especially true if H1N1 infections are present in your community," said Orly Avitzur, M.D., medical adviser, Consumer Reports. High risk groups that should be given the swine flu vaccine include pregnant women, children over 6 months of age and young adults, particularly those with an underlying disease, including asthma, heart disease, diabetes, and those with immune disorders.

The majority (59%) of those polled said they did not get the season flu shot last year. Their top reason was the belief that avoiding the vaccine would allow them to build their natural immunities. "There's no evidence that natural immunity is better than vaccination and it adds the inconvenience of being sick with potential complications," said Dr. Avitzur.

The Consumer Reports poll suggests that Americans appreciate the benefits of hand-washing and avoiding those with flu symptoms, though there is less acceptance of some key measures like taking advantage of the protections of certain masks when someone at home has the flu. In a related report in the November issue, Consumer Reports notes that people who are contagious or at high risk should use a "respirator" mask rated "N95," which provides a snug fit to the face and should provide more protection against breathing in tiny viral particles than looser fitting masks when used properly.

Survey Highlights:

  • Sixty-nine percent of parents who said they were undecided or would not have their children vaccinated said they wanted their children to build natural immunities. In a close second, sixty-five percent of parents said they were worried about the swine flu vaccine's newness and whether it had been tested enough.
  • When asked which measures they deemed very important for keeping their children healthy during flu season, 92 percent cited hand-washing; 89 percent cited a healthy diet; 83 percent cited rest and sleep; 68 percent said keeping their children away from other sick kids was very important; and, 41 percent said having their children vaccinated for the flu was very important.
  • Forty-three percent of parents said they were either "not worried at all" or "not too worried" that their children would get sick with swine flu, and 58 percent said they were "not worried at all" or "not too worried" about a swine flu vaccine shortage.
  • Sixty-two percent of Americans are either somewhat or very confident that the swine flu vaccine will be safe. Sixty-seven percent said they were confident that the swine flu vaccine would be effective.
  • Fifty-nine percent of adults told pollsters they did not get vaccinated for the seasonal flu last year, while 41 percent did. Of those who opted not to get the flu vaccine, 63 percent said they believed in building their natural immunities, while 54 percent said they don't get the flu.

Log on to http://www.consumerreportshealth.com for up to date information about swine flu and details about what to pack in a swine flu emergency kit.

Poll Methodology

The Consumer Reports poll used a nationally representative sample of 1,502 adults. The survey was conducted via telephone from September 2 to September 7, 2009. The margin of sampling error is +/-3.0%.

SOURCE Consumer Reports

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