Few countries responded more aggressively to the swine flu pandemic than the U.K. Quick to reassure its citizens, the country was among the first to lay its hands on a substantial supply of new flu vaccine. And it called on healthcare workers to be first in line, a key measure in the fight to contain any virus.
Most, though, never showed up in the queue. BBC London found that only one in three nurses in London was vaccinated by mid-December as most medical staffers simply refused to heed the advice of the National Health Service. The vaccine first became available in the U.K. in October, and the NHS was insistent that nurses and doctors be among the first in line.
Health officials, though, have been tracking a deep-seated reluctance by people around the world to get a shot. Polls indicate that one segment of society never felt that the pandemic was much of a real personal health threat. Another group didn't want to be among the first to get injected with a novel vaccine, worried that it could carry unknown side effects.
As it turned out, the health threat was milder than first feared, and the vaccine proved to be safe overall. Health officials now will want to review their pandemic planning for the next outbreak. If the majority of front-line health workers resist vaccination in the event of a serious outbreak, their health systems won't be able to care for the victims. It's also a major issue for vaccine manufacturers who could be left with huge stockpiles of unused vaccine when the majority of the world's population refuses to follow commonsense medical advice.
- here's the story from the BBC