November 18th, 2009
11:47 AM ET
10 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. Economist

    Um, so more for me? Really, by the time it's available in large enough supply to significantly diminish the spread of the disease, it will be the next flu season. By then, it'll be part of the seasonal shot, anyway. Of course, hardly anyone gets that, either.

    November 18, 2009 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  2. Joe

    By the time the shot is available to the general public, flu season will be over.

    November 18, 2009 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  3. strong

    Of course, getting or not getting a flu shot is a personal choice.

    The only vaccine (shot) I would get, if it ever became available, would be a shot against smallpox. Swine flu is "small potatoes" compared to a terrifying smallpox outbreak.

    November 18, 2009 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  4. Some republican guy

    The flu shot was invented by the narcisstic obamabots in there secret lab at ACORN headquarters! Don't get the shot because if you do you'll turn into an obamabot too!!! Or maybe even an Oprah watching socialist union thug!!! If someone tries to give you or your grandbabies a shot, ask to see there birth certificate. If they can't produce one guess what? Their really an obamabot!!!!!!! Run from them if you want to stay a real American. Have a nice day!

    November 18, 2009 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  5. T'SAH from Virginia

    NOT necessary!!! The shot probably won't do you any good!! I got it from my grandson – got rid of it – YOU MUST take a full 5 days of bed rest and plenty of fluids!!!!!

    DO NOT go outside too soon... After 3 days you begin to feel better and then you get a COUGH!!! Cough up the CRAP and after a couple of days – be on YOUR MERRY WAY!!

    The FLU SHOT was not avaialbe to us anyway – I NEVER – nor my kids and grandkids – took a flu shot in our lives!!!

    November 18, 2009 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  6. Anthony R. Seta

    I agree. I'm almost 40 and feel healthy enough that I can forego my shot so that someone else in a more 'deserving' category can get it. Also, I'm a vegan-vegetarian who does not eat eggs. The current vaccine is produced with chicken eggs. I therefore have a moral complication with accepting this vaccine. I'll have to just deal with the flu this year like any other year.

    On another note, I think that it would be a worthwhile pursuit to 'promote the general welfare' by funding multiple NIH sponsored investigations to move the nation from the current vaccine production procedures with eggs onto a new technology that would not have to rely on this older and outdated method of vaccine production. With 310 million US citizens and multiple dependencies and allies throughout the world, we need a vaccine production method that can mass produce in a faster manner. This will take time and good scientific investigation, but this should be done.

    November 18, 2009 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  7. Elizabeth in Florida

    I got the H1N1 flu, and if I had the chance, I would most certainly get the vaccine. I was out sick for 12 days, used all of my sick days and will loose pay if I get sick again. I don't ever remember being as ill as I was during that time. This is not just the same ol' same ol' flu for everybody. True, some don't get very sick, but this flu has the potential to be devastating. I don't understand why anyone would not want to protect themselves, their co-workers and their families.

    November 18, 2009 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  8. Pee Wee

    Pelosi and crew are going to give us National Health Care (or at least insurance reform, yet can't even administer shots to much more than 10% of the nation. This is not a very rosy precursor of things to come if this health care business is finally passed.

    November 18, 2009 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  9. sharong58

    I heard an expert from the CDC about 6 months ago say that H1N1 was very similiar to a bad strain of flu that was going around in 1957.
    I was 8 years old at the time and remember being very sick with the flu. I would bet money I have natural immunities. I would also bet a good majority of my generation does, so why do we need the shot now?
    I have also read that in the U.S. there has only been 3,000 deaths. That is very sad, especially when most were young people, but it's hardly an epidemic, pandemic whatever! There are 307 million people in this country! 3,000 is way less than 1% of the population.
    I work with over 300 people and I don't know one that has been out of work because of the flu.
    I think it's another media overexaggeration! Then they have the nerve to lambast President Obama with "where's the rest of the vaccine?" And now they are lambasting the dems because it wasn't the pandemic people thought it was going to be and saying things like "oh, he wasted millions of our tax dollars on unneeded shots!"
    I am so sick of the criticism towards our President when he's doing the best he can!

    November 18, 2009 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  10. Jefe

    Most of the people not getting an H1N1 shot are probably the same people who don't get a seasonal flu shot. Many of us believe the human body contains an immune system which we evolved to fight off disease, and rather than introduce harmful toxins (that's exactly what a vaccine adjuvant is – its the intended purpose, to be toxic and elicit an immune response to make the vaccine effective), we're willing to take the chance that we might get the flu, and in almost all cases, that means a couple days off work feeling crappy.

    To me, a polio or smallpox vaccine makes sense, but for a rapidly mutating virus such as the influenza virus, its just a bad idea. I don't need heavy metals or squalene injected into my body to reduce my chances of getting the sniffles and maybe vomiting a couple times. Our society is way too obsessed with medicating everything for the sake of perceived convenience, at great cost to those of us who know how to live healthy lives (increased insurance rates, etc.).

    November 18, 2009 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  11. Enough

    Well that's good considering there isn't enough of it for everyone anyway. Welcome to your preview of Obama care. Enjoy the rationing.

    November 18, 2009 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  12. TimH

    I am one of those people that don't plan to get the H1N1 shot but not for any of those reasons. You state that the people are "shunning" the shot like there is some big conspiracy to it, which is simply foolish.

    I work from home, have very little interaction with the populace at large and don't like putting even dead diseases into my body if it's not really necessary. Besides, my decision leaves one more dose available for someone that really needs the protection.

    Please don' t make so many out to be the fear mongering goofballs that are running amok right now.

    November 18, 2009 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  13. Jon

    Flu bait...

    November 18, 2009 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  14. Obama 2.0

    Ignorance is the flavor of the day.

    November 18, 2009 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  15. A. Smith, Oregon

    Interesting, after all that Dr. Gupta has raved and encouraged anyone short of pre-natal infants to have H1N1 injections, the vast majority tell him Hell No!

    After Dr. Gupta publicly stated there was no connection between the millions of Guillain–Barre syndrome victims that suddenly had that disease shortly after the original Swine Flu injections, the vast majority is telling him Hell No!

    Apparently, a failure in the spin factory is to blame, go figure!

    Another interesting FACT is that someone, presumably the US Government has been erasing all records on Guillain–Barré syndrome reports which were found by the dozens via a routine Internet Search mere weeks ago. The Chinese Government would be so proud!

    November 18, 2009 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  16. Captain Tony

    If you have doubts about getting the shot for whatever reason, why don't you look at the number/% of healthcare workers that get it? I'll bet you that a huge percent of the most informed people, i.e. those that most clearly understand the risks and benefits of getting immunized, are a getting the shot. You are crazy not to get it unless you have overt contraindications (egg allergy, immunocompromised, etc...).

    November 18, 2009 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  17. wait a minute

    People are so unbelievable. They said they don't want the vaccine as it was not tested enough for them. Then some of them complain it is not available to them. I think the Obama administration did the best they can to control H1N1.

    November 18, 2009 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  18. Ray Fisher

    Those of us who received the swine flu shot circa 1970's remember too well the scare, bullstuff, and hypocrisy of Rumsfeld & CO. and the goat rope that followed not to mention the deaths. I now have MS possibly from their haste.

    November 18, 2009 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  19. Dave

    Well, duh.....it was not tested enough and is filled with poisons. They put these adjuvants in them and schill them to the public under a huge media campaign while the ones without are given to the elite. It is a test of their control over us and it is failing!!!

    November 18, 2009 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  20. Randolph Carter, I'm no expert but.....

    "Pelosi and crew are going to give us National Health Care (or at least insurance reform, yet can't even administer shots to much more than 10% of the nation. This is not a very rosy precursor of things to come if this health care business is finally passed."

    The vaccine shortage is due to the patent holders not allowing other parties who are perfectly capable of producing the vaccine to do so. Same with the Tamiflu shortage. This is the free market that you want to run your healthcare? Global capitalism at its finest. Have a nice day!

    November 18, 2009 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  21. John Starnes Tampa Florida

    It does not make sense to avoid mercury in seafood and other sources, then get it INJECTED into you via a flu shot.

    November 18, 2009 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  22. pooghie

    I so agree with you, "enough". I am more afraid of the plight that Barack;s heatlh "plan" will afford us as a nation than I am of geting the swine fly shot. I'm a social worker and all of my patients are elderly – – -but because I am not a direct health care professional, I don't qualify.

    November 18, 2009 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  23. Louise

    If you have 3 children aged 4, 2 and 3 months (like I do), then its crazy to not get the H1N1 shot. But can understand why other people dont, majority of people who have had this flu have survived OK, just like any other flu. If you have any other illness then I would consider getting it.

    November 18, 2009 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  24. barbara

    the vaccine was developed too fast for me to trust it. sorry but thats just how i feel. i wont get it but wont advise others for or against it. my daughter says that she wont get it for the same reason. shes an adult and can decide for herself. my nephew is in the military and was mandated to get it. he stated that he received the nasal vaccine. You should have seen us all talking to his nose and telling him that the government actually imbedded a tracking and recording devise. great fun in our family! hahahahaha.

    November 18, 2009 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  25. Bed time for Raygun

    We wont get it because the drug companies made the flu in a lab to make money.They dont want a cure for anything,including Cancer,as long as billions can be made from it.Big Pharma and the health insurance companies are the enemy of every American.

    November 18, 2009 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
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