Via The Globe and Mail, an informative report by André Picard: Misinformation keeping Canadians from taking flu shot, study says. Excerpt:
Fewer than four in ten Canadians have been immunized against influenza, and the principal reason for not getting the flu shot is mistrust of vaccines, according to a new national poll.
“Fully a third of those who won’t get a shot – or almost a fifth of the adult population – make this choice because they think vaccines are dangerous,” said Lorne Bozinoff, president of Forum Research, which conducted the poll.
“This is an unusually high level of misinformation,” he added.
The National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommends that everyone over the age of six months get inoculated against influenza annually, describing the vaccine as “safe and well tolerated.”
The survey showed that 39 per cent of adults have received a shot so far this flu season, with another 11 per cent saying they plan to do so.
Almost half the population, 49 per cent, said they had no intention of getting vaccinated. Asked why, they offered up a number of reasons:
• Mistrust of vaccines, 36 per cent;
• They never get the flu, 35 per cent;
• Inconvenience, 5 per cent;
• Too time consuming, 4 per cent;
• Lack of availability, 3 per cent;
• Other, unstated reasons, 17 per cent.
The poll shows that the reasons for refusing vaccines vary a lot depending on where people live, as well as their income, education and age.
Fear of vaccines is most common among those with low incomes (44 per cent of those with family incomes of less than $40,000 a year), and the less well educated (41 per cent of those with only a high-school degree.)
Invulnerability to illness is felt most strongly by the wealthy (48 per cent of those with income above $100,000) and among university graduates (41 per cent).
Lack of vaccine availability was cited most often by residents of B.C. (14 per cent) while long waits were seen as a problem principally in Alberta (10 per cent) and the Prairies (nine per cent).
According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, the 2013-14 flu season is of normal severity but a little later than usual, meaning infections have probably not peaked yet.