Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Cold, Flu, & Cough Health Center

Font Size

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
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Aug. 25, 2009 -- Less than half of health care workers surveyed in Hong Kong intend to get vaccinated against swine flu, citing uncertainty about its effectiveness and possible side effects, a new study indicates.

And another new study shows that health care workers and some people in the general public may refuse to get immunized or vaccinate their kids, fearing that risks of a novel vaccine could outweigh benefits.

Swine Flu Outbreak: Get the Facts

Swine Flu Slideshow

Learn more about the H1N1 swine flu and see what you can do to stay healthy.

View the slideshow.

Researchers of both scientific studies say vaccination is critical, one of the most important ways to reduce illness and prevent death associated with pandemic flu complications.

The Hong Kong study is published by BMJ. The other study, based on analysis of 85 participants of focus group discussions in Canada, is published in Emerging Health Threats Journal.

Authors of the Hong Kong study describe their findings as surprising, given the fact that SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) had such a huge impact in Hong Kong, and note their information was gathered at the same time as the World Health Organization escalated its alert for swine flu to phase 5.

The SARS virus outbreak of 2003 infected more than 8,000 people worldwide and caused nearly 800 deaths.

Flu and Health Care Workers

Josette Chor, BSc, PhD of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and colleagues of the BMJ study say that campaigns are needed to encourage vaccination of health professionals. The researchers gathered survey data from 2,255 health care workers at 31 hospitals. They were first surveyed about willingness to get a pre-pandemic vaccine against avian flu (H5N1) when the WHO influenza pandemic alert level was at phase 3 in early 2009. In May when the level had been raised to 5, they were asked about willingness to get a vaccine against the new H1N1 swine flu.

In the first survey, 28% of respondents said they’d be willing to get vaccinated for pandemic flu. The authors say “no significant changes in the level of intention to accept pre-pandemic H5N1 vaccine were observed,” despite the escalation to phase 5 of the swine flu pandemic.

About 48% of respondents said they’d take the shots against swine flu at phase 5, but many still said they worried about side effects of vaccines and efficacy.

“To our knowledge, this is the largest study conducted to assess the willingness of healthcare workers to accept pre-pandemic influenza vaccination, and it provides important information on barriers to vaccination,” the authors write.

Today on WebMD

hot toddy
15 tips to help you feel better.
man sneezing into elbow
Do echinacea and vitamin C really help a cold?
teen girl coughing
Get a good night’s rest with these remedies.
elder berry
Eat these to fight colds, flu, and more.
Natural Cold Flu Remedies Slideshow
cold weather
Allergy And Sinus Symptom Evaluator
Boy holding ear
woman receiving vaccine shot
woman with fever
Waking up from sleep
woman with sore throat