(Updates throughout with second poll from CDC)
* 41 percent of Americans vaccinated or plan to be
* CDC and HHS moving to big-box stores for vaccines
* Three quarters who sought vaccine for kids found it
By Maggie Fox, Health and Science Editor
WASHINGTON, Dec 22 (Reuters) - Americans who were worried about the safety of the swine flu vaccine are still worried and it may not be easy to convince them to get themselves or their children vaccinated, researchers said on Tuesday.
About 60 percent of parents polled say they plan to get their children vaccinated and 41 percent of adults have already been vaccinated or are still trying to, but there is a core of resistance that has not been moved by entreaties by the U.S. government, pollsters said.
“Thirty-five percent of parents say they are not going to get it and 60 percent say the major reason is safety,” Robert Blendon of the Harvard School of Public Health said in a telephone interview.
“Our view is there just has to be more work on understanding how people think about the vaccine.”
A second poll by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggested that 46 million Americans had been vaccinated by Dec. 12, 18 million of them children. The CDC’s Dr. Anne Schuchat said 111 million doses of H1N1 vaccine had been made available.
“Surveys are showing that initial doses of vaccine were relatively quickly taken up and they were going to the people they were targeted for,” Schuchat told reporters in a telephone briefing.
Several studies have shown the H1N1 swine flu vaccine does not cause unusual side effects and Blendon said it is not clear why so many parents are fearful.
The Harvard poll of 1,637 people aged 18 and older was taken last week.
The CDC estimates that nearly 50 million Americans have been infected with swine flu and 10,000 have been killed by it.
While this is not as high as the usual 36,000 deaths from seasonal influenza, officials note that swine flu infects and kills young adults and children more than seasonal flu does. “None of us knows what the weeks and months ahead will bring in terms of influenza activity,” Schuchat said.
Very little seasonal flu has circulated so far in the 2009-2010 season and CDC said about 113 million doses of seasonal flu vaccine were available or had been taken.
The U.S. Health and Human Services Department has contracts with five companies to make 251 million doses of H1N1 vaccine as well as seasonal flu vaccine — Sanofi Aventis (SASY.PA), CSL of Australia (CSL.AX), AstraZeneca (AZN.N) (AZN.L) unit MedImmune and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK.L).
HHS and CDC are working to get the vaccine distributed in so-called big box stores like Wal-Mart (WMT.N). “People will be seeing it everywhere they go, we hope,” Schuchat said.
“We think the H1N1 pandemic has really improved our ability to deliver vaccines to children through their schools,” she added.
John Roehm of Mollen Immunization Clinics, which operates the Wal-Mart vaccine program, said the company would have swine flu clinics in 48 states by the end of next week.
“We will see how demand is,” Roehm said in a telephone interview. He said demand rose as state health departments encouraged the wider population to be vaccinated.
Retail drug stores have also begun administering vaccines, with Walgreen Co WAG.N offering it at more than 1,500 locations in 27 U.S. states and CVS Caremark Corp (CVS.N) in 20 states and Washington [ID:nWEN7597]. Rite Aid (RAD.N) had clinics in 12 states.
Editing by Julie Steenhuysen