It seems as though each day more research and surveys come out showing that health care workers as well as the general public remain reluctant to have the “fast tracked” swine flu shot.  

A recent review published in the British Medical Journal looked at 2255 healthcare workers who completed questionnaires in two studies. They were doctors, nurses, or allied health professionals working in the public hospital system.  Over 50% of the respondents reported that they would not take the swine flu shot and cited fear of side effects and doubts about efficacy.

A recent Canadian study of 11 different groups of people including health care workers and parents of young children published in Emerging Health Threats Journal 2009;2:e8, www.eht-forum.org/ehtj/journal/v2/pdf/ehtj09008a.pdf, indicated that many people from all sectors of society may refuse to have the swine flu shot.

These reports are in addition to the recent more publicized survey of 1500 British front-line nurses in Nursing Times that has shown that 1/3 will not take the swine flu vaccine because they are worried about the possible side-effects, and another 1/3 answered the survey as unsure whether or not they will have the shot.  One nurse was quoted by the magazine as saying “I would not be willing to put myself at risk of unknown long-term effects to facilitate a short-term solution.”  Another of the respondents said “I have yet to be convinced there is a genuine health risk and it’s not just Government propaganda.”

A couple of things jump out at me with these.  The first is that these studies are from countries other than the U.S.  Hong Kong #6 in the world in life expectancy, Canada #8, and the U.K. #37.  The other thing that jumped out at me is the amount of publicity these stories are getting.  This one is a little more puzzling to me.   Perhaps this is a testament to the dissemination of information via the internet, and if so that is a great thing.

Why aren’t health care workers, some of the most medically indoctrinated people, getting the swine flu shot?  This is really the question we all need to be asking.  Could it be that health care workers are aware of the research that shows the ineffectiveness of the flu vaccines and the potential serious side-effects?  Could it be because they are the ones left to deal with the sick and injured many who receive flu shots each year?  Could it be that they remember the mass panic and vaccination for the 1976 swine flu pandemic in which more people died and were seriously damaged from the vaccine than from the flu itself?