Swine Flu Poll
Reporting by Jon Cohen and Jennifer Agiesta
A Washington Post-ABC News poll examines public opinion regarding the swine flu and vaccinations.
Weighing the vaccine
More than six in 10 Americans say they're unlikely to get the swine flu vaccine, and a sizable number are turned off by questions about its safety. Less than half of those confident in the vaccine's safety say they plan to get it, and only 6 percent of those with doubts say they will be inoculated.
Most parents are planning to inoculate their children
Parents are weighing safety and urgency in deciding whether to have their children vaccinated, and most come out in favor of doing so. Among those unlikely to have their children inoculated, most cite concerns about safety as their main reason for avoiding it.
All told, 47 percent of parents think the vaccine is safe and plan to have their kids vaccinated, and 26 percent say it is not safe and are avoiding it. One in eight (12 percent) think it is safe but will not get it, and 4 percent plan to immunize their children despite safety concerns.
Aside from worries about side effects and safety, apathy drives more parents away than cost or barriers to access.
Assuming both measures are approved, the House and Senate will form a conference committee to combine the two bills for one final vote in their respective chambers. Then it's on to the White House for President Obama's signature. Democrats are confident of enacting health-care reform this year -- although many of the provisions won't take effect until 2014.
Growing concern about infection
Public worries about catching the H1N1 virus have increased markedly, with concern about contracting swine flu growing more swiftly among those younger than 30 -- a group that is at higher risk than older adults.
In August, 26 percent of people younger than 30 said they were concerned about it, while 47 percent do now. Among those ages 30 to 64, concern has grown from 42 percent to 54 percent. It has held steady at just under half among seniors.
Women are more apt than men to worry about the virus (60 percent to 43 percent concerned), and are twice as likely to say they are very worried.
Whichever version, if any, Congress decides to adopt, the public option won't be available to everyone. It would compete for the business of uninsured people who do not qualify for Medicaid or don't have access to affordable coverage through their employers.
Confidence is high for government response
Confidence in the ability of the federal government and local health agencies to respond to an outbreak remains widespread, though both measures are a bit lower than they were in August. The number who are 'very' confident is considerably lower.
Democrats express the most confidence in the federal government (78 percent), though broad majorities of independents (66 percent) and Republicans (62 percent) are also secure in its ability to respond well.
Republicans are more apt to say they have confidence in local health officials and hospitals (89 percent) than are independents (78 percent) or Democrats (76 percent).
Rural residents are a bit less likely than others to have faith in local officials (76 percent confident, compared with 80 percent in suburban areas and 84 percent among urbanites).