One Third of Parents Oppose Swine Flu Vaccine for Their Kids, Poll Says
More than a third of parents in the United States oppose getting their children vaccinated against the swine flu, according to a poll conducted this month by The Associated Press.
Some parents said the vaccine is too new and they worry about possible side effects. Others said the swine flu is no worse than the regular season flu.
Officials at the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention said getting children vaccinated against the H1N1 virus is important. Unlike with the regular flu, the CDC said that its studies have shown that children have no natural antibodies effective against the virus. This can cause the disease to last longer with more severe symptoms, according to the CDC Web site.
Additionally, immunizations help stop the spread of the disease, according to the CDC Web site.
CDC officials have said there have been no serious side effects reported as a result of the vaccine so far. Still, some parents are jittery. One of them is Jackie Shea, the mother of a 5-year-old son in Newtown, Conn. "We're talking about putting an unknown into him," she told the AP. "I can't do that."
It is not an unknown, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said last week. "We know it's safe and secure," she said.
Because of people's fears, however, the federal government has set up a monitoring service to look for negative side effects.
The AP conducted the poll between Oct. 1 and 5. Some parents polled remembered immunizations against the swine flu in 1976 that resulted in a torrent of complaints from people who said the vaccine gave them a paralyzing condition known as Guillain-Barre syndrome.
Health officials never found a link between the vaccine and the disease, claiming the disease was bound to show up in such a large population anyway.
Jennifer Barnes of Decatur, Ga., enrolled herself and her two children in an early government study of the new vaccine. She said parents are polarized on the vaccine issue. There's the "crunchy granola group" against the vaccines, she told the AP. Then there's the "very staunch, follow-everything group."
She said she wanted the vaccine not only for her own children, but to do her part to help control the extent and severity of a pandemic that nationally has caused 9,000 hospitalizations and 600 deaths, 60 of whom were children.
"My kids hang around kids who might have lowered immune systems," she told the AP. "I would hate for them to get something and pass it on."
What do you think? Should parents ignore the swine flu vaccine?