This is disturbing: A poll of 1,678 U.S. parents found that only four in 10 are planning to get their child immunized against the H1N1 virus.
Less than half of those people who aren’t getting their kids vaccinated told the University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital that they are not worried about their child becoming ill with the virus. That leaves a whole lot of other parents who appear to acknowledge their kid could get sick, but still won’t give them the shot.
Washington state’s decision yesterday to suspend its rules about the levels of mercury allowed in shots given to pregnant women and young children doesn’t help matters. I understand the rationale – mercury-free shots may not always be available and the state Department of Health wants to give people options. But lifting the mercury limit is only feeding concerns about the link between the mercury preservative called thimerosal and autism.
Several studies have ruled out such a link. The swine flu vaccination is just one shot compared to the many thimerosal-containing vaccinations kids used to get, but some parents would rather risk swine flu than take any chances.
A limited amount of mercury-free doses will be available, so concerned parents should try to seek those out. Low vaccination rates have societal consequences, allowing infectious diseases to gain traction and mutate into deadlier strains.
So far, about one in 13 U.S. swine flu deaths have been children.