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Harvard and CNN Report on Lower than Expected H1N1 Vaccine Uptake

Posted Dec 08 2009 12:00am

Dr. OFfit By Kim Stagliano

Dr. Offit, when 60% of Americans polled (see below) report that they are not certain they will get the H1N1 vaccine and 41% are certain they will not, your vaccine consumption message is not having the desired effect. Despite your use of ad campaigns, non-profit pharma groups, pretty movies stars, curvy pop singers, NPR, The Chicago Tribune, the LA Times, The New York Times, press releases, a new science-based autism organization, magazines, the book publishing industry, and more, the majority of Americans surveyed by The Harvard School of Public Health are not convinced of the safety or necessity of the H1N1 vaccine:

...About six in ten adults are not "absolutely certain" they will get the H1N1 vaccine for themselves, including 41% who say they will not get it, 6% who say they don't know if they will get it, and 11% who say they are planning to get it but may change their mind. About four in ten parents (44%) are not "absolutely certain" that they will get the vaccine for their children, including 21% who will not get it, 7% who don't know, and 16% who say they are planning to get it but may change their mind...

You are the self-annointed face of public health and vaccination in America, and your strong arm tactics are backfiring. I don't happen to think you can market a medical procedure like laundry soap or the latest movie release. Or bully people into taking a vaccine. (Remember the Gardasil push in Texas?)

You'll blame the "anti-vaxxers" for the public refusal of this vaccine.  Spare me. We are a cap gun compared to your nuclear bomb when it comes to the media. We're ragtag colonials hiding behind trees as you Red Coats march in military precision with fine weapons. How much money has your ally, the US government, spent on the H1N1 flu campaign. How many TV programs have been dedicated to promoting the vaccines? You had everyone including Elmo and Sid the Science Kid trying to convince Americans to get their shots.

Here's my real concern. What if there is an anthrax attack on American soil? Or a biological attack that could be thwarted with a vaccine? (You think if Ebola is killing my neighbors, I'm going to let my kids exsanguinate rather than vaccinate them? Think again. Vaccine safety advocates weigh risk and return, just like you businessmen.) If such an attack happens, will the nation hold you responsible for having diminished the public's trust in vaccines?  I think that's entirely possible. And dangerous. What a legacy.

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