If the lack of takers for the A/H1N1 swine flu vaccine these days is an indication of how Floridians feel about the pandemic, then most residents have decided that the outbreak is over.
And Florida is no different than the rest of the country. During January, when the vaccine was available to anyone who wanted it as opposed to only high-risk groups, only 9 million Americans were immunized. According to survey results and extrapolations made by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) , this was a significant drop compared with an average rate of about 20 million vaccinations per month from October through December.
Interest in getting the vaccine mirrored the low level of swine flu infection that month. During the last week in January, less than 2 percent of doctor office visits involved all strains of influenza.
In January, the Harvard Opinion Research Program of Harvard University’s School of Public Health conducted a telephone survey of more than 1400 American adults and discovered that 44 percent said that the swine flu pandemic had ended. Only 32 percent were concerned about being infected by the swine flu in the next few months. Over 61 percent had not received the swine flu vaccine and had no intention of getting it in the future. More than one third said that the reason for their shunning the vaccine was the impression that the outbreak just wasn’t as serious as originally represented by health officials.
A Rand Corporation survey found that only 23 percent of the US population got the swine flu vaccine through January as compared with 32 percent who received the seasonal flu vaccine through November. Why the discrepancy? According to Family Practice News, experts blame poor timing in the swine flu vaccine’s availability last fall as well as confusion over who should be vaccinated first when supplies were low and fears about the vaccine’s safety.
Bottom line: now that there are ample supplies of vaccine everywhere – including Florida – there are few customers.