Friday, October 09, 2009

“Extra! Extra! Come and get your H1N1 flu vaccine!” So will you or won’t you?

You’d think that after months of headlines, newscasts and health warnings, Americans would be more than eager to be first in line for the new H1N1 vaccine. But somewhat surprisingly, that may not be the case.

In a new survey released last week by the Harvard School of Public Health, just 40 percent of adults said they were “absolutely certain” they’ll get the H1N1 flu vaccine, and only 51 percent of parents were “absolutely certain” they’ll get their children immunized against H1N1, commonly known as swine flu. Among the top reasons for not getting vaccinated? Safety concerns. In fact, only a third of those surveyed thought the new vaccine was very safe “generally for most people to take.”

But people have no more reason to be concerned than they do for the regular seasonal flu vaccine, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. According to CDC, the H1N1 vaccine is being made the same way as seasonal flu vaccine — with the same methods, in the same production facilities and by the same companies. And it’s been tested on a wide range of people, from children to seniors, just like the seasonal flu vaccine is.

This week, CDC reported that H1N1 vaccinations have begun — starting with those most at risk, such as health workers and children — and that every U.S. state had ordered vaccine supplies. Such supplies are becoming available as soon as they come “off the production line,” said CDC Director Thomas Frieden.

“My children will get it,” Frieden said during an Oct. 6 press briefing. “Other public health and societal leaders and experts will get it. It’s something that we have a high degree of confidence in.”

So, what about you? Ready to roll up your sleeve and get protected against H1N1 flu? Take the Get Ready poll on the front page of our blog and let us know. And while you are at it, leave us a comment or two.

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