The Weekly Round-Up: H1N1 Vaccine Safety

As the vaccine for the virus formally known as “swine flu” finally hit the streets last week, the blogosphere and the news media grappled with public uneasiness over the H1N1 vaccine.  Worried that your autumn sniffles could be a sign of something more serious to come?  Not sure if you or your child should get the vaccine?  It seems you’re not alone.  Polling data, parent groups and even Bill Maher are considered in this edition of the Weekly Round-Up.

EmpowerHer: Women’s Health Online

a recent Associated Press-GfK poll found only about half of Americans said they are planning to get the vaccine. Most of those are older people — so far among the least vulnerable to the virus.  Almost three-quarters of respondents said they were concerned about the vaccine’s safety (although many of these said they still were going to get the shot).  And a University of Michigan poll found that only 40 percent of parents wanted to get their children inoculated.  But experts and officials continue to stress that not only is the vaccine safe, it’s the surest way to protect yourself from the H1N1 swine flu virus.”

U.S. News and World Report Blog:

According to Pew, there is a partisan split on the vaccine. To wit, 60 percent of Democratic respondents said that they would get the vaccine and 34 percent said they would not. Conversely, only 41 percent of Republicans said they would take the vaccine while 54 percent said that they would not. (Warning for Democrats: Independents have the same 41-54 split.)”

Healthy Child Healthy World:

Healthy Child Healthy World doesn’t typically address the vaccination debate, but we know it’s important to our audience of parents. And, it’s become especially important with the pandemic spread of the H1N1 virus. Parents are scared and we want to help. We don’t have a recommendation for whether you should vaccinate or not, but we do believe you should have easy access to expert insights that can help you make an informed decision.”

Well Blog: NYTimes.com

“Mr. Maher recently told his Twitter followers that people who get flu shots are “idiots.” On his Friday HBO show “Real Time With Bill Maher,” he explained his opposition to the flu vaccine during an interview with Bill Frist, a heart surgeon who was a Republican senator from Tennessee. Mr. Maher questioned letting someone stick “a disease into your arm,” wrongly implying that the flu shot contains a live virus. The flu shot is a killed vaccine. (Only the nasal mist vaccine contains a weakened live virus.)”

So, what’s your verdict?  Will you get the vaccine and defy the scientific acumen of Bill Maher?  Is there a legitimate debate to be had about the safety of the vaccine, or is this just another instance of the media clumsily handling scientific reporting, hiding behind polling as a way to spread irrational fear?  Whatever you end up doing, one thing is clear: be sure to wash your hands before you do it.

Michael Davidson

Michael Davidson is a former CCT Graduate Student.