POLL: Swine Flu Vaccine, Parents Doubt Safety

Citing safety, nearly 4 in 10 parents won't have their children vaccinated.

ByABC News
December 15, 2008, 12:03 PM

Oct. 22, 2009— -- Nearly four in 10 parents do not plan to have their children get the swine flu vaccine this year, with doubts about its safety overwhelmingly cited as the chief reason, underscoring safety concerns as potentially a major impediment to vaccination efforts.

Other results in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll buttress the point: Three in 10 adults are not confident the vaccine is safe (including one in three parents), and 22 percent believe it's "very" safe. These attitudes heavily influence intentions to get vaccinated, with views of the vaccine's safety a stronger factor than the perceived risk of getting the flu itself.

Click here for PDF with charts and questionnaire.

Even though concern about catching the flu has risen sharply since August, only 35 percent of adults plan to get vaccinated (including 2 percent who say they've already done so); 62 percent say they probably will not get vaccinated. More parents, 56 percent, intend to have their children vaccinated (including 4 percent who say they've done so), but even among parents, 39 percent say they probably won't.

WHY NOT? – This poll asked those parents, open-endedly, why they don't plan to have their children vaccinated, a robust approach because it doesn't prompt for predetermined answers. Far surpassing other mentions, 53 percent in this group raised safety concerns, citing worry about side effects or doubts whether the vaccine's been sufficiently tested.

Far behind that reason, 18 percent of parents who intend not to have their children vaccinated said they're not worried about the flu or don't believe getting the vaccine is worth the trouble; 15 percent said they don't believe the illness is serious enough; 3 percent were unsure about the vaccine's availability; and 1 percent were unsure about its cost. The rest gave scattered other answers.