Many may refuse the flu shot

    Pharmaceutical companies are expected to have a vaccine for H1N1 swine flu by the fall. But some say they are not interested in getting immunized.

    Pharmaceutical companies are on track to have millions of pandemic flu shots available in the fall. Public health officials say they want to make sure certain groups don’t turn away the vaccine — including those who administer the shots.

    Listen: [audio:090826kgvaccine.mp3]

    Doctors, nurses and other healthcare providers may not set the best example for getting flu shots. Only about 40 percent get immunized each year. Recent surveys in the UK found doctors’ and nurses’ attitudes were similar toward the H1N1 flu shot.

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    The federal government is paying for millions of pandemic flu shots that should be available in the fall. The first wave of availability will go to high priority groups like nurses, pregnant women and children. Michael Huff, Pennsylvania’s Deputy Health Secretary, says providers are one of the state’s five high priority targets for encouraging vaccination.

    Huff: We’re going to focus a lot of attention on our healthcare community to encourage them to get this particular vaccine. It has been a challenge in the past with seasonal influenza vaccine.

    Kris Sheedy is a spokeswoman for the immunization group at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She says healthcare professionals often turn away regular flu shots.

    Sheedy: Our immunization coverage in healthcare workers is around 42 percent which is well below where we’d like it to be. They’re a really critical group in terms of our immunization recommendations.

    Chuck Moran, the spokesman for the Pennsylvania Medical Society, says his group surveyed state residents last month to gauge their attitudes.

    Moran: One question that we asked them is, now that you’ve heard about the swine flu, if you didn’t get a flu shot last year, what are your plans this year? And overwhelmingly people said, you know, they’re not really planning on doing anything differently from last year.

    Surveyed health care providers say they won’t get the shot because the illness does not seem very severe, and they’re uncertain of the vaccine’s safety.

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