Half of Americans could catch swine flu, healthcare workers still reluctant to get vaccinated

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Half of Americans could catch swine flu, healthcare workers still reluctant to get vaccinated
Half of Americans could catch swine flu, healthcare workers still reluctant to get vaccinated

Slightly less than half the population of the United States could become infected with the H1N1 flu this fall and winter, according to a presidential panel. That trails findings that healthcare workers are still hesitant about receiving the H1N1 vaccine.

The President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology predicts that as many as 120 million people are likely to exhibit symptoms of the H1N1 virus. Half of these people will seek medical attention, exposing countless healthcare workers to the disease, the panel reported. Furthermore, it expects that up to 300,000 patients could require intensive care services. Seasonal flu typically leads to 36,000 deaths and 200,000 hospitalizations, up to 90% of which occur in the elderly population. The science advisors predict up to 90,000 deaths and 1.8 million hospitalizations from H1N1, also known as swine flu.

Meanwhile, a Canadian study appearing in the Aug 23 issue of Emerging Health Threats Journal finds a reluctance among people to get a swine flu vaccine. After surveying 11 focus groups, researchers found that those who practice alternative medicines are the least likely to get a vaccine. They also found that healthcare workers are reluctant because many view the H1N1 as a mild disease. While hygienic measures such as hand washing, social distancing or eating a healthy diet are helpful, these actions are not enough to prevent illness during a pandemic, according to the study authors.