Flu Vaccine Shortage Doesn't Dampen Holiday Spirits, According to National Survey

ROSWELL, Ga. -- As the holidays move into full swing, most people plan to "party on" despite this year's flu vaccine shortage.


A national survey released today by Opinion Research Corporation on behalf of Kimberly-Clark Professional asked 1,017 adults about ways to avoid cold and flu germs at holiday parties and celebrations.


Nearly half chose one response: "Throw caution to the wind."


Not everyone was this laid back, however. Echoing concerns from a well-known "Seinfeld" episode, 13 percent said they would skip holiday dishes that might be subject to "double-dipping."  The same number said they would avoid holiday parties altogether. Ten percent would hug instead of kiss people and 5 percent would avoid shaking hands. Only 4 percent vowed not to kiss under the mistletoe.


When visiting public restrooms during the holiday season, the chief choice

for germ avoidance was hand washing (44 percent). The second selection wasn't

quite "throw caution to the wind," but it came pretty close: "Go about

business as usual, trying not to think about getting sick."  Using paper

towels on faucets and door handles to avoid touching contaminated surfaces

after washing hands came in third. Foot- and elbow-flushing of toilets came in

last, with just 6 percent of respondents.


The survey findings dovetailed with an October 2004 Opinion Research

Corporation/Kimberly-Clark Professional survey of 1,029 adults, which found

that one in three people were not concerned about the flu vaccine shortage.

Other key findings from the earlier survey were:


    -- 96 percent of respondents said they would cover their nose or mouth or

       clean their hands after sneezing or coughing to prevent the spread of

       cold and flu germs.

    -- 62 percent of the 588 employed respondents said they took these

       actions at work to avoid spreading germs to colleagues, while close to

       a third of this group said they tried to stay away from co-workers as

       much as possible when they were sick.

    -- "Respiratory etiquette" was clearly expected of co-workers, with more

       than three quarters of employed respondents saying it bothered them

       when sick co-workers sneezed or coughed without covering their faces

       or coughed or sneezed and then touched common surfaces.

    -- More than half of all respondents were aware of Mom's -- and the

       Centers for Disease Control (CDC)'s -- advice that handwashing is the best

       way to prevent the spread of germs, with 46 percent selecting hand

       washing and 9 percent choosing hand cleansing with waterless

       sanitizers as the one action they were most likely to take to avoid

       catching a cold or the flu.



The latest survey of 1,017 adults nationwide was conducted by telephone

Dec. 2-5, 2004 by Opinion Research Corporation.  The margin of error

is plus or minus three percent.  The earlier survey of 1,029 adults was

conducted by telephone Oct. 8-11, 2004, also by Opinion Research

Corporation. Of those surveyed, 588 reported being employed full- or part-

time.  The margin of error is plus or minus 3 percent for the entire

sample and 4 percent for those who were employed full- or part-time.


Source: Kimberly-Clark Professional