Public Tells Healthcare Workers: Get Your H1N1 Flu Vaccine

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As H1N1 influenza vaccine begins to be shipped across the country, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) emphasize getting the first doses to high-priority groups. One such group is healthcare workers.

A report released today by the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health shows 87 percent of the public believes healthcare workers should be required to be vaccinated against H1N1 flu in case of an outbreak, while only 38 percent of healthcare workers intend to get the H1N1 flu vaccine.

“We have heard from public health experts and healthcare workers—and now we see how strongly the public feels about their healthcare workers getting vaccinated against H1N1 flu,” says Matthew Davis, MD, MAPP, director of the poll and associate professor of pediatrics and internal medicine in the Child Health Evaluation and Research Unit at the U-M Medical School. “The public clearly expects healthcare workers to lead by example.”

The poll also finds that, even among healthcare workers, there are misconceptions about vaccination and treatment for both seasonal and H1N1 flu.

Results show healthcare workers were more likely than other adults polled to say they would not get vaccinated against H1N1 flu because there are medications to treat H1N1 illness, and because they plan to get the seasonal flu vaccine and therefore believe they would not need the H1N1 flu vaccine.

“The belief that seasonal flu vaccine will protect against H1N1 is a misconception. The seasonal flu vaccine and H1N1 flu vaccine protect against different viruses. You need to get vaccinated against both to be protected against both,” says Davis. “In addition, relying on medications to treat H1N1 flu is a gamble, especially since there have been isolated cases of resistance to the most commonly used drug, and there may not be adequate supplies of medication to treat all who get sick. That means vaccination is likely our best choice for controlling H1N1 flu.”

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