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Not Everyone Wants to Be Vaccinated Against Pandemic Flu

But personal hygiene prevention methods are not enough, experts warn

MONDAY, Aug. 24 (HealthDay News) -- Some people may refuse to get vaccinated against a pandemic virus if they believe the risks outweigh the benefits, suggests a new study.

Canadian researchers conducted 11 focus groups in Vancouver before the start of the current swine flu pandemic. Participants were asked how willing they'd be to receive a new vaccine in the event of a pandemic.

Parents who favored alternative medicine were most likely to be opposed to vaccination for themselves and their children, but the study found that even health-care workers were reluctant to get vaccinated against an illness they perceived as mild.

"Participants were very concerned that in a pandemic, a vaccine would be brought to market without sufficient testing for safety," wrote Natalie Henrich of the University of British Columbia and Bev Holmes of Simon Fraser University in Vancouver.

Instead of a vaccine, many participants believed they could protect themselves by taking personal control measures such as hand washing, social distancing or eating a healthy diet, the researchers found. These measures are helpful, but not sufficient to prevent illness during a pandemic, said the study authors, who added that this needs to be made clear to the public to ensure a successful vaccination campaign.

It's vital that alternative health professionals understand the importance of vaccinations during a pandemic and share this message with their patients, the researchers pointed out in a news release from the publisher of the Emerging Health Threats Journal, where the study is published.

"In the United States, for example, approximately 57 percent of the population use alternative therapies and 10 percent receive services from alternative health care providers," Henrich and Holmes wrote.

More information

The World Health Organization outlines 10 things you need to know about pandemic flu.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Emerging Health Threats Journal, news release, Aug. 23, 2009

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