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
"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."