"People have concerns about vaccination ... despite the clear message from
all of us in public health and doctors throughout the health care field that
vaccine is our best tool to protect against the flu," CDC director Thomas
Frieden, MD, said at a news conference aimed at convincing U.S. residents to
get their H1N1 swine flu vaccine.
That is going to be a tough sell. A Harvard University poll taken in late
September showed that 41% of Americans say they definitely will not get the
vaccine for themselves or for their children. And another 17% either don't know
what they'll do or say they might not get the vaccine.
How can that be, when doctors, nurses, scientists, and public officials are
virtually unanimous in urging people to get the vaccine -- for free or at low
Vaccination is an emotional issue, says Emory University researcher Saad B.
Omer, MBBS, PhD, MPH, who has intensively studied the phenomenon of vaccine
"We are a passionate people," Omer tells WebMD. "People feel strongly about
certain things. I don't think people realize that vaccines are science-based
products, and any criticism of and anything in favor of them should be based on
science -- and that often doesn't happen."
The worst thing clinicians can do, Omer says, is to dismiss people's
concerns. What are those concerns? According to polls and expert opinion, there
are five major fears.
Fear No. 1: Getting Swine Flu From H1N1 Swine Flu Vaccine
Family doctors hear it all the time -- it's the No. 1 fear of flu vaccines,
says Ted Epperly, MD, president of the American Academy of Family
"The public has a large fear that somehow flu vaccine gives people the flu,"
Epperly tells WebMD. "They have this fear they will get the disease this
vaccine is aimed at preventing."
We've all heard this. Many of us have experienced it firsthand. Flu season
comes, so you get your flu shot. A day or two later, you come down with "the
flu." It had to be the flu shot, right?