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Swine Flu Vaccine: Will It Catch On?

Some Health Care Workers and the Public May Refuse the New Flu Vaccine for Fear of Possible Side Effects, Study Shows

Concerns Over Vaccine Safety

For the Canadian study, Natalie Henrich, PhD, MPH, of the University of British Columbia and doctoral student Bev Holmes at Simon Fraser University studied 85 people in 11 focus groups in Vancouver in 2006-2007. Participants in the Vancouver focus groups included university students, adult Canadians, parents, and health care workers.

They found that participants seemed reluctant to get a new vaccine during a pandemic "because of low perception of risk of infection early in a pandemic coupled with the many uncertainties that surround new vaccines and the emerging infectious disease." They note that "very few" said that they "would definitely get vaccinated."

Also, “participants were very concerned that in a pandemic, a vaccine would be brought to market without sufficient testing for safety,” the researchers write. Many felt that hand-washing and social distancing could help prevent disease.

But Henrich and Holmes say such steps, though worthwhile, aren’t enough, and that the message that vaccination is important needs to be broadly stressed.

In an accompanying BMJ editorial to the Chor study, Rachel Jordan, PhD, MPH, from the University of Birmingham, and Andrew Hayward, PhD, of the UCL Centre for Infectious Disease Epidemiology, say the first batch of H1N1 vaccine should be ready by October. They say it’s important for health workers to get the vaccine for personal and patient protection and also to reduce absenteeism.

The Hong Kong researchers say more study is needed to determine the root cause of the low intention to get vaccinated.

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