Swine Flu Poll: Problems With Vaccine Supply and Safety Concerns

Nearly half of parents don't plan to vaccinate their kids against the virus.

ByABC News
December 15, 2008, 12:03 PM

Nov. 19, 2009— -- Nearly half of parents now don't intend to have their children vaccinated against the swine flu virus – and among those who do plan to get the vaccine, more than half say they've been deterred by supply problems, a new ABC News/Washington Post poll finds.

Others, meanwhile, continue to steer clear as a result of undiminished skepticism about the safety of the vaccine itself. Despite federal reassurances, a third of Americans say they're not confident it's safe, much like the 30 percent who said so last month. And 66 percent of adults say they themselves don't plan to get vaccinated – slightly up from 62 percent last month.

Click here for PDF with charts and questionnaire.

Among parents, 14 percent say they've had their child or children vaccinated, up 10 points from a month ago, but still a relatively small share of the population. A much larger group, 45 percent, don't plan to have their children vaccinated – a slight increase from the 39 percent who said so in mid-October.

BARRIERS – Availability is one barrier: Among parents who still plan to get the vaccine for their children, 52 percent say they've already tried to do so, but found that it wasn't available. The rest haven't tried yet but say they will in the future.

And there are safety doubts. Just 24 percent of adults are "very" confident the vaccine is safe; as noted, more, 33 percent, aren't confident in its safety. (It's about the same for each among parents). Seeking to counter such perceptions, FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg sent a letter to every physician in the country last week, reiterating that the swine flu vaccine is made the same way as the seasonal flu vaccine, and there's no reason to think it's less safe.

The concerns, nonetheless, are largely specific to swine flu vaccine. Ten percent of Americans in this survey say they're not confident in the safety of any vaccine. That, itself, presumably is a concern for public health specialists; regardless, more than twice as many, 23 percent, say they're dubious, not of vaccines in general, but of the swine flu vaccine specifically.