Side effect fears spur docs to reject swine flu vax

With the fall flu season looming, government officials in the U.S. and around the world have been scrambling to lay their hands on as much new swine flu vaccine as they can, as fast as they can. Billions of dollars are being made in one of the biggest bonanzas ever seen on the vaccine front. But signs are beginning to appear that suggest the supply may quickly beat the demand.

Case in point: A new survey in Hong Kong shows that more than half of all healthcare workers--the prime target of every plan regarding early inoculation--will turn it down. Only 48 percent of these first responders, including doctors and nurses, said they would allow themselves to be vaccinated. And fear of serious side effects is the primary cause of rejection.

"Vaccination is one of the potentially effective measures that can reduce mortality and morbidity from pandemic influenza," the authors wrote. "However, the effectiveness of this measure depends heavily on the uptake rate in those groups assigned high priority."

"To our knowledge, this is the largest study conducted to assess the willingness of healthcare workers to accept pre-pandemic influenza vaccination, and it provides important information on barriers to vaccination," according to the study, which was led by the Chinese University of Hong Kong. "Campaigns to promote vaccination should consider addressing the knowledge gap of staff and the specific target groups for intervention."

This isn't the only study to find a deep-seated reluctance to be first in line for any new vaccine. A new survey in Canada found that parents and healthcare workers are often frightened by a new vaccine. "Across the board, most people said they would need to know a lot more information about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine, and a lot more about how risky the disease is before they would consider using it," said Natalie Henrich, co-author of the paper.

- read the story from Bloomberg
- check out the report from HealthDay News