Most parents who tried were able to get H1N1 shots for children, poll finds

Boston -- A new poll by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health shows the shortage of H1N1 vaccine for children is easing, according to a press release dated Dec. 22.

As of late last week, three-quarters of parents who tried to get the vaccine for their children were able to do so.

Overall, six in 10 parents have gotten or expect to get their children vaccinated, but more than a third do not. More than half (60 percent) of those parents who do not expect to get the vaccine cite their concerns about the safety of the vaccine as the major reason. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers all children ages 6 months to 18 years old a high-priority group for H1N1 vaccination.

The poll, which examines the American public's response to the distribution of H1N1 vaccines this fall, is the seventh in a series on public views concerning the H1N1 flu outbreak undertaken by the Harvard Opinion Research Program at HSPH. The poll was conducted Dec. 16-17.

"Now that the H1N1 vaccine is more widely available, public health officials who want to increase vaccination rates will need to focus more attention on convincing people who most need it of its safety," said Professor Robert Blendon, director of the Harvard Opinion Research Program and an expert in understanding the public response to emergencies that involve health threats. "Findings here -- like past polls -- suggest that beliefs about safety have been difficult to change for a segment of the public."

The poll also found an increase in adult uptake of the vaccine since early November, but 55 percent of adults said they do not intend to get it.

"Overall the poll results indicate that even with further efforts from public health officials, many people will not seek the H1N1 vaccine or get vaccinated,"said Gillian SteelFisher, research scientist in the HSPH Department of Health Policy and Management and assistant director of the Harvard Opinion Research Program.