Harvard Poll: Americans don’t trust public health officials to tell them about H1N1 vaccine safety

People aren’t sure they’ll get swine flu vaccine, poll says

Only four out of 10 adults are absolutely certain they will get swine flu shots once they are available and only a little over half will get their children vaccinated, according to a Harvard poll released today. But others might change their minds, which could put pressure on vaccination delivery.

Among the people who said they wouldn’t get the flu shots for themselves or their children, about 6 in 10 said they might reconsider if people in their community were sick or dying from swine flu. Also known as H1N1, the strain emerged last spring and has so far sickened an estimated 20,000 people in Massachusetts, including 12 who have died.

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,” Robert J. Blendon, professor of health policy and political analysis at the Harvard School of Public Health, said in a statement released with the poll.

When asked why they weren’t planning to get flu shots, people said they were worried about side effects or not concerned about catching the flu. Parents also said they were concerned about their children getting other illnesses from the vaccine and didn’t trust public health officials to tell them about vaccine safety.

Only a third of adults think the swine flu vaccine is safe, compared to a little more than half who think seasonal flu vaccine is safe.

The poll is the fifth is a series of public opinion surveys about swine flu. Conducted by telephone from Sept. 14 through 20, it has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.


According to the Harvard Poll:

Major Reasons for Not Getting Vaccine or Being Unsure

Those who were not “absolutely certain” they will get the H1N1 vaccine cited the following as the top “major” reasons for their thinking: (1) they are concerned about getting side effects from the vaccine (30%); (2) they don’t think they are at risk of getting a serious case of the illness (28%); and (3) they think they could get medication to treat H1N1 if they do get sick (26%). The top “major” reasons cited by parents who are not “absolutely sure” they will get the vaccine are that (1) they are concerned about side effects of the vaccine (38%); (2) they are concerned that their children could get other illnesses from the vaccine (33%); and (3) they do not trust public health officials to provide correct information about the safety of the vaccine (31%).

“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.

Safety Concerns

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.


New York is the first state to mandate health care workers receive the vaccine and the CDC is considering a nationwide federal mandate for workers in the health care field to prevent the spread of the flu.

At a demonstration outside of Fox Memorial Hospital in Oneonta, New York, Gail Sloan, a RN tells Bloomberg, “I object to the government telling me what shots I’ve got to take,” said Gail Sloan, a registered nurse in the emergency room at A.O. Fox Memorial Hospital in Oneonta, New York. “The vaccine has been pushed by drug companies and I don’t think it has been fully tested.

In Seattle, 16,000 registered nurses and their union, the Washington State Nurses Association, has filed a federal lawsuit against MultiCare Health System for mandating a flu vaccination policy. Nurses have the option to wear face masks or face losing their jobs, reports KOMO News.

The policy is being implemented at Tacoma General and Good Samaritan hospitals. The union feels that any mandatory policy should be overseen by the state or federal government, not the hospitals on their own.


Because vaccines are not considered lucrative for drug makers, since the 1980s the government has encouraged production by offering protection to vaccine makers from lawsuits that result from any injuries. Last July, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced the H1N1 makers will be protected as well.

Read more: http://www.injuryboard.com/national-news/40-percent-will-not-be-vaccinated-says-harvard-poll-.aspx?googleid=272104#ixzz0T5xM7hLS

One Response to “Harvard Poll: Americans don’t trust public health officials to tell them about H1N1 vaccine safety”

  1. The same government that invented the “magic bullet” now wants us to try their magic vaccine. No thanks.

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