Just 36 percent of adults polled say they received an influenza vaccine for the current flu season, and only 30 percent say they would get a special vaccine for Type A H1N1 influenza if one was made available, according to a University of Texas/Zogby International poll. The main reason cited for not getting vaccinated (41 percent of adults) is they didm't think it was necessary, despite Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations that all but infants and those with a history of Guillain-Barre syndrome, or allergies to eggs, be vaccinated.
The online survey of 1,442 adults was conducted May 4-6.
A surprising 38 percent of U.S. adults are unvaccinated, do not practice good hygiene and don't restrict travel or mall shopping related to flu concerns. This group tends to be male, younger, single and less inclined to abide by quarantine. The same was true of 25 percent of health care workers polled, 28 percent of caregivers in nursing homes and 33 percent of those whose children are vulnerable due to asthma, diabetes, or HIV. Particularly concerning is that only 48 percent of such children were vaccinated.
Just 18 percent of survey respondents cited the H1N1 flu as being a severe threat. Respondents were asked to rate the H1N1 flu threat on a scale of 1 to 10, with one being not at all severe and 10 being the most severe. (Answers of one to four were grouped as "not severe", responses of six to 10 were grouped as "severe.") In all, 18 percent rated the H1N1 threat as severe.
While few respondents changed their daily habits because of the H1N1 flu outbreak, their confidence of the government's ability to handle the potential crisis was 40 percent are confident, while 35 percent are not. Still, 58 percent say they would be willing to go into voluntary quarantine if asked, and 52 percent say they think it is ethical to place subjects, including themselves, into a mandatory quarantine.
"Public health authorities handled the H1N1 crisis well", said Ward Casscells, MD, cardiology professor at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and a senior scholar and special advisor to the president, Texas Heart Institute. "The charge that they over-reacted, or caused panic, is nonsense. The greater danger is complacency. People know the symptoms of flu, but most do not realize vaccination, treatment and hygiene save lives. A new strategy is needed to educate and motivate the skeptical, cavalier, and defiant 'Killer Karls'."
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