Nearly half of Americans believe H1N1 outbreak is over, poll finds

BOSTON – The latest poll from researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health shows that 44 percent of Americans believe the H1N1 flu outbreak is over, and levels of concern about getting sick with the virus continue to decline.

Just 18 percent think it is “very likely” there will be another widespread outbreak of the H1N1 virus in the United States during the next 12 months, although 43 percent of the population does say such an outbreak is “somewhat likely.”

After an initial period of vaccine shortage, 70 percent of adults said there is now enough vaccine in their community for everyone who wants it.

The national poll was conducted Jan. 20-24. The Harvard polling data was of 1,419 adults, including 377 parents, and had a margin of error of three percentage points for the total response.

??At this point, 40 percent of parents have gotten the vaccine for their children and an additional 13 percent intend to get it before the end of February. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had identified children as a priority group for the vaccine.

Among adults, 21 percent got the H1N1 vaccine for themselves and an additional 16 percent intend to do so before February ends.

If perceptions that the outbreak is over spread, those who now say they intend to get the vaccine may ultimately decide not to.

The poll revealed that 61 percent of adults said they have not gotten the vaccine and do not intend to.

Michael T. Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, told The New York Times that he “was not surprised” by how few got shots.

“But that could all change overnight if we get a third wave in late February — and we still could,” he added. “That would make this half-time data, not end-of-the-game data.”