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2/3 of Australians unlikely to get vaccinated against swine flu
Date:12/23/2009

Australia risks a serious swine flu (H1N1 influenza virus) outbreak with two-thirds (65 per cent) of unprotected Australians stating they're unlikely to get vaccinated against the disease in the next 12 months, according to an MBF Healthwatch Poll.

"While the number of new cases of swine flu in Australia might have waned since last winter, the disease is still a major threat," Bupa Australia* Chief Medical Officer, Dr Christine Bennett warned.

Despite the public health campaign, the statistics found that Australians are still confused about their level of risk of contracting swine flu and the effectiveness of the vaccine. Many people also said they were reluctant to get vaccinated, with the most common reasons given being:

  • It is unnecessary (48 per cent)
  • Health experts are giving mixed messages (41 per cent)
  • The threat in Australia has passed (38 per cent)
  • They are not at risk of getting swine flu (38 per cent)
  • They have concerns about the safety or possible side effects from the vaccine (39 per cent).

Since the swine flu outbreak, Australia has had more than 37,000 confirmed cases and 191 deaths as a result of the disease.

"The number of cases and deaths from this disease is increasing at an alarming rate into the winter months in the northern hemisphere, with more than 22 million people in the USA infected and 10,500 people dying from the disease," Dr Bennett said.

"It is highly likely, with the increase in the numbers of Australians travelling overseas and an influx of overseas visitors to Australia over the summer months, that we could see a spike in new cases here."

"While swine flu can be a relatively mild disease for most, it can also kill and make people sick enough to end up in intensive care on life support," said Dr Bennett, who especially urges people with underlying health conditions that put them at higher risk to not delay getting the free vacc
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Contact: Rachel McConaghy
rmcconaghy@reputationmatters.net.au
61-042-176-2140
Research Australia
Source:Eurekalert

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