According to a survey by the National Foundation of Infectious Disease almost half (43 percent) of Americans are not planning to get a flu shot for the 2010-2011 flu season. Among reasons cited for not getting the shot was the belief that the shot was ineffective, that there are other ways to prevent the flu which are equally effective as the flu shot, and a fear of dangerous side effects. Many people are probably afraid due to negative media attention including speculation that the flu shot can cause autism. The largest and most carefully controlled data we have says that side effects to flu shots are rare and a link between vaccinations and autism has never been proven. Despite this, media figures such as Jennifer McCarthy have been very vocal about their belief that autism is caused by vaccines.
This year's flu shot protects against three different strains of the flu including H1N1, the strain that caused the 2009 pandemic. Unlike other years where the vaccine has been in short supply and only certain "high risk" individuals were recommended to get vaccinated, there is plenty of flu vaccine this year and officials are recommending that everyone who can get a flu shot do so. Unfortunately, it sounds like it will take a lot more than a global pandemic to restore the public's faith in vaccines.
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