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5 Reasons Some People Fear the Swine Flu Vaccine

Experts explain why many Americans say they won't get this year's H1N1 swine flu vaccine.

Fear No. 2: Swine Flu Vaccine Is Too New to Be Safe continued...

No matter how small the risk of the 1976 vaccine, there was zero benefit. That's not the case now. Hundreds of Americans already have died of 2009 H1N1 swine flu, and the bug already has circled the globe. Nearly every nation on earth would like to have as much of the vaccine as the U.S. has.

Vaccine supplies in many nations -- Canada and the U.K., for example -- have approved the use of a substance called adjuvant to boost immune responses to the vaccine. This oil-in-water emulsion is approved by European regulatory agencies, but not yet by the FDA.

Consequently, no adjuvant is being used with the U.S. H1N1 swine flu vaccine. The U.S. does have a large supply of adjuvant. It might be used if the virus mutates and a broader immune response is needed for vaccine protection. But that has not happened yet, and may never happen at all.

Fear No. 3: I Never Get the Flu and Besides, It's Just the Flu

Some people say they never get the flu. It's hard to argue that they will -- although studies find that very few people have any pre-existing immunity to the 2009 H1N1 swine flu.

"I can't look at you and say what is your risk profile by how many times you say you wash your hands and so on," Omer says. "But on average, flu vaccine benefits people by preventing infection or at least preventing more severe consequences of flu. It helps -- especially among the groups for whom the vaccine is particularly recommended."

The Harvard poll shows that 61% of Americans planning to refuse the H1N1 swine flu vaccine don't think they're at risk of a serious case of swine flu.

"Actually, on average, flu is not a mild illness. It can make you pretty sick; knock you out for a day or two or three," Frieden says. "And for too many people, it ends up sending them to the hospital or to the intensive care unit -- and, tragically, some people may die from it. ... It can be very serious. And even for those for whom it's an average case, it's no picnic."

Fear No.4: It's Too Late: H1N1 Swine Flu Already Is Here

Even if you haven't been paying much attention to the news, you can't miss the fact that swine flu already is sweeping the nation. The average American won't get the vaccine until mid-November. Isn't that too late?

"It's too soon to say it's too late," Frieden said.

How can that be? The reason is that not everyone gets the flu at the same time. Even in areas where there's been widespread swine flu, studies suggest that about 5% to 10% of the population has been infected.

"That leaves 90% to 95% of the population still susceptible," Frieden says. "We can't predict what the future will hold and we know that vaccination is our best tool to reduce the impact of flu."

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