November 18th, 2009
11:47 AM ET
5 years ago

CNN Poll: Majority of adult Americans don't want H1N1 flu shot

Washington (CNN) – More than half of all adult Americans say they don't want to get the H1N1 flu vaccine, according to a new national poll.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Wednesday also indicates that the number of adults who have tried to get the vaccine but were turned away is higher than the number of adults who have gotten a swine flu shot.

CNN Radio: CNN Polling Director Keating Holland breaks down the results

According to the poll, 55 percent of adults don't want to get the swine flu vaccine, and don't plan to get a shot. Another one in five say they want to get inoculated but haven't taken any steps to do so, 14 percent want a shot and have tried to get it but have been unsuccessful. Just 7 percent have been inoculated for H1N1.

Why are more than half of all Americans shunning the vaccine?


"The perception that the vaccine has dangerous side effects is the top reason," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Roughly half of those who don't want a swine flu shot say that the possibility of side effects is one reason why they don't plan to get the vaccine. That works out to 28 percent of the adult population who don't plan to get inoculated due to the risk of dangerous side effects."

So far officials of the National Institutes of Health say that in clinical trials they've seen no serious side effects and that study subjects who have been immunized have generated a good response.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the vaccine for certain high-priority groups because they are more likely to have serious complications if they develop swine flu. These groups include: pregnant women; caregivers and household contacts of children younger than 6 months; everyone between the ages of 6 months and 24 years; and people ages 25 to 64 with existing health problems.

One in four American adults say they don't plan on getting a shot because they are not in a high-risk group, with 21 percent indicating they don't plan on getting vaccinated because they only go to a doctor when they are sick. Most of those respondents are men.

What about the 14 percent who have unsuccessfully tried to get the vaccine?

"Some say they don't know where to go - that works out to 4 percent of the total adult population who want to get inoculated but haven't been able to locate a medical facility that is giving swine flu shots," adds Holland. "A bigger group, 5 percent of the total population, say that they found a facility with the vaccine were turned away because they were not in a high-risk group or for some other reason. And 3 percent of all adults say they found a facility that had the vaccine but it ran out before they got there."

Add together those last two groups, and the number of Americans who actively sought the vaccine but were turned away for some reason is 8 percent of the total adult population, roughly the same number as the 7 percent who have been inoculated so far.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll was conducted November 13-15, with 1,014 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Full results (pdf)

–CNN Deputy Political Director Paul Steinhauser and Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen contributed to this report

Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @psteinhausercnn


Filed under: CNN Polls
soundoff (66 Responses)
  1. Tina

    I already got my seasonal flu shot. Had the swine flu shot been available when I got the seasonal flu, I may have gotten it. But since I am not in one of the groups that's likely to get swine flu, I am not going to waste my time standing in a long line for a chance to get the shot.

    The management of the swine flu vaccine was handled poorly. It should have been available with the seasonal flu vaccine. That way, more people who wanted it could have gotten it.

    November 18, 2009 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  2. Jill Charm City

    Ok, I get that the vaccines were not out at the deadline that the government had set. But umm last time I checked the government is not in the vaccine producing business! So its really up to the manufacurers to meet the governments deadlines, and they are the ones who dropped the ball. Stop blaming the government because you aren't partial to who is in charge!!! And furthermore, this flu is just like the seasonal flu, trust me, I've had it. So really the high risk are the only ones who realllly need the vaccine. So stop all of this pointless blaming, and use that energy to come up with something constructive for once!!

    November 18, 2009 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  3. marlene

    There isn't enough supply for all wanting a flu shot, so I'm not willing to stand in line only to find none available. Some places are charging to much money for the H1N1 shots, that are supposed to be free from the government.

    November 18, 2009 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  4. Just My Opinion in Texas

    As a person that seems to "get" the flu from every flu shot I have ever taken ... I just do NOT want to chance it with the H1N1 shot.

    And secondly ... I've already HAD H1N1 back in September ... So I don't think the shot will do me much good now.

    Is THAT reason enough???

    November 18, 2009 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  5. DavidN

    My pharmacist, a very smart, decent and caring person – said she is not going to get the shot – so I sure as heck won't! She said it was rushed to the market too fast and she did not feel there was enough time for proper testing. And then there's the concerns about its overall effectiveness and ingredients. Nope, ain't going to do it.

    As to how the program is being run – should we really be surprised. The government cannot run anything right. If anything, this should be a perfect example of why we should NOT allow the federal government to run our health care system. How about them apples?

    Flu Shots for Clunkers!

    November 18, 2009 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  6. maggie

    I would guess that the primary reason most people don't want it is because of the immunity that the vaccine makers have been given. If anyone gets ill from it, there is no recourse. We stay ill or permanently damaged with no compensation from the maker of the vaccine that harmed us. At least this is my reason for NEVER getting flu vaccines.

    If the government makes the makers responsible, I think you'll see more people lining up. There's been no shortage of it where I live, so people saying they can't get it doesn't wash here.

    November 18, 2009 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  7. emjay

    This H1N1 debacle is just a peek into the future of government run healthcare. Limiting mammograms is next. Keep drinking the Kool Aid 'cause soon you ain't getting no mo medicine.

    November 18, 2009 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  8. hanester

    I got vaccinated Monday with zero side effects. I am a 46 yeard old female with mild lifelong asthma. I too was concerned about side effects, I have never had a flu vaccine. But after learning that the virus replicates in the lungs and not wanting to get sick, I went for it.
    You should too because it may save lives of those around you.
    The supply is increasing and it is really no big deal, arm did not even hurt. How lucky we are! It is also free.

    November 18, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  9. Pragmatic

    Your decision: if you get the flu – stay home and don't whine.

    November 18, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  10. chris_in_chicago

    i got it. i have a son thats two months old, and if he got sick, because i was too stupid to get what was offered, i couldn't live with that, i have to know that i did everything i could to prevent that...

    i think its funny that people have these conspiracy theories about the vaccine, and in the same breath, condemn obama for not having enough of it. does it matter if there is enough, if you are thinking its all a scam? do you want it or not? i can't even tell.

    i also like "they rushed it, and didn't take the time to test it". what do you want them to do, study it for ten years?

    "i remember the shot from the 70's". buddy, its 2009, i assure you that things have changed.

    i agree with captain tony. most people in the healthcare industry, have got the vaccine. my doctor got it. you should probably trust the people who have the education and experience to make the call. a crazy idea i know.

    November 18, 2009 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  11. C. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    I've used my choice not to take the flu shot and I haven't had anyone knocking on my door demanding I do so. It's called a freedom of choice people, take it or don't take it, and stop complaining whether it's available or not.

    November 18, 2009 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  12. Ben

    I'm allergic to the flu vaccine, but thinking a vaccine is dangerous is ultimate stupidity.

    November 18, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  13. bob in LA

    Why would you even poll this? When they don;t show up for the vaccine, won;t it give them that data?

    November 18, 2009 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  14. jennifer

    The vaccine shortage is because of distribution mainly. With this vaccine, the government is in charge of shipping it and they're doing a terrible job of it. A couple of weeks ago, a woman doctor was talking about it on a CNN report. The government can not do an efficient job. Remember that if you think government run healthcare is a good idea.

    November 18, 2009 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  15. thinkingperson

    I'm not surprised by this poll. Feeds right into the Guvmint' conspiracy theory crowd. Pass out the tin-foil hats. We could offer tax incentives for them to emigrate to Somalia though When you think of it, it is the perfect solution. Somalia has no government, no services, no taxes and everybody is a religious fanatic and walking around with a gun. The tea-party and birther wings of the GOP would fit right in!

    November 18, 2009 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  16. Joan

    I read that Dr Gupta and Obama own shares in Baxter.
    People are way to trusting of what the government and their media puppets say. There is NO WAY I would get it because I have done my homework. But Hey! if you want to shoot yourself and your kids up with their poisen GO FOR IT! nobody is stopping anyone from getting it.
    Everyone has a opinion and no facts to back it up. It is sad to see that 45% of the public is uneducated about who is really running the show.

    November 18, 2009 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
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