How Gen X reacted to the H1N1 pandemic
January 24th, 2012
12:02 AM ET

How Gen X reacted to the H1N1 pandemic

In April 2009, the CDC identified a new virus in humans: H1N1, or what was then called swine flu, and the wheels of the public health machine started turning.

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared a global H1N1 pandemic in June, and by October 2009, the first doses of an H1N1-specific vaccine were administered.

A study published Tuesday looks at how Americans in their thirties reacted to the availability of a vaccine.  In all, about one in five of those in Generation X got the H1N1 vaccine during the 2009-2010 pandemic, according to the researcher’s analysis of survey data.

On average, those with more education in general, and those who knew the most about influenza in particular, were most likely to either have taken or planned to get vaccinated against H1N1.

A slight majority of participants –- 53% - answered “probably true” or “definitely true” when asked whether the vaccine is safe, with 31% replying "not sure."

Participants also graded information sources –- their doctors and news media, for example - on their trustworthiness regarding H1N1.

Health care professionals topped the list - doctors, researchers, pharmacists, and nurses with medical expertise.

News media fell in the middle of the spectrum, on average, followed closely by “a family member” and “a close friend”.

At the bottom: Pharmaceutical company commercials, which beat only YouTube videos as an information source Generation X considered trustworthy regarding the flu.

“This generation of young Americans, they are very skeptical of corporate information of all kinds,” says Jon Miller, Director of the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan, and the study’s author.

“They don’t trust pharmaceutical companies hardly at all. Only YouTube does worse.”

Surveys used in the study were distributed in November 2009 among a national sample of approximately 3,000 adults aged 36 to 39 as part of the Longitudinal Study of American Youth at the University of Michigan.

The CDC estimates that between April 2009 and February 2010 approximately 265,000 people were hospitalized and 12,000 died in the United States alone due to H1N1 influenza.

soundoff (39 Responses)
  1. The_Mick

    "On average, those with more education in general, and those who knew the most about influenza in particular, were most likely to either have taken or planned to get vaccinated against H1N1...Health care professionals topped the list – doctors, researchers, pharmacists, and nurses with medical expertise." +++++ As a typical scientist, it's always made sense to me to trust the opinions -when they're not paid to represent a particular interest- of those who know most about a subject in areas in which I'm not an expert. For example, when I needed to replace my basement sump pump I consulted an old friend who is a plumber. The quote above and the fact they are backing up their opinions by putting their bodies on the line should be a powerful indication that getting vaccinated is a positive thing to do!

    January 24, 2012 at 08:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • jane

      Most health care workers are required by their employer to be vaccinated against the flu. Some get the option of masking during the entire shift if the do not choose to be vaccinated.

      January 24, 2012 at 22:28 | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      Umm, hey Mick. Pharmaceuticals pay for doctors and some nurses endorsements of their products. And some hospitals require their staff to mandatory vaccinations, so try not to pat yourself on the back too hard. Besides, the real reason those Flu vaccines are pushed so hard is so that after you get the flu, you'll go out and buy other pharmaceutical products to combat it. Old game, still lame... The only medical expertise exhibited is the same old garbage your industry has been throwing at people for years, you know the one that makes doctors and pharmaceuticals more money... You're nothing more than a poisoner, go get your flu shot though...

      January 24, 2012 at 22:30 | Report abuse |
    • DK

      Health care workers spend a great deal of their school training getting propagandized about the so called "safety" of the vaccines (which is insane considering pretty much every vaccine includes known toxins in the ingredient list so you don't have to be a rocket scientist to understand there might be some negative effect.).

      January 25, 2012 at 02:39 | Report abuse |
    • DK

      If vaccines are so safe, you might want to ask our government why they shield the drug companies from liability, and why the supreme court has ruled them inherently unsafe by design. I know of no other industry that gets so much protection from legal damages, and clearly someone was worried about the side effects otherwise why shield the companies from being sued if you know it's so safe.

      January 25, 2012 at 02:41 | Report abuse |
    • Enildo

      Smart guy, that Daniel!!! Get the essential noirttiun you need (see Dr. Wallach). Nothing tastes as good as good health feels. Celiac or not pastry, sugar and beer doesn't make for a long, healthy, productive life. Do the research on your own-you're worth it.

      October 13, 2012 at 23:13 | Report abuse |
  2. wahoosouth


    The global footer at the very bottom of this page still shows '© 2010 '. You may want to fix that.

    January 24, 2012 at 09:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. AliWV

    The article doesn't mention how many people died of complications from the vaccine compared to how many died from the flu itself. I don't think it's worth the risk.

    January 24, 2012 at 09:44 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Peter Guzinya

      you're an idiot

      January 24, 2012 at 10:02 | Report abuse |
    • Melissa

      @Peter Guzinya – You may feel that this person seems like an idiot, but it's his or her option to get or not to get the flu shot. That's the nice thing with human race, we all have our own opinions. It's really immature of you to call names over this persons own opinion. @ AliWV – I agree with you. I do not feel there is enough research put together to say this vaccine is safe. They had vaccines 4 months after the outbreak, how much studying could have been completed plus have time to produce so many vaccines in just 4 months? There are many medication on the market, or has been yanked off the market because it causes underlying health conditions that surface after so many months/years of use. Until this is further researched and tests are ran on how many died of the vaccine, or from the flu itself, I would conclude that it is safer to wait for the outcome. I haven't even caught the seasonal flu ever. It's called hand washing, staying clear of sick people, and making sure hygiene is well off. It really does help. So, I will CHOOSE not to use the new flu vaccine until its further tested.

      January 24, 2012 at 11:18 | Report abuse |
  4. OldMo

    I've had one incident of sick time in the last 16 yrs at work. The year I got the flu shot I more sick with the flu than I ever had been in my life, I was laid out flat of four days. I haven't had a vaccine since and I'll never get one again.

    January 24, 2012 at 10:39 | Report abuse | Reply
    • kalo

      You had a reaction to the shot, perhaps you should have called the doctor -_- you do realize the flu vaccine is dead unless you took the nasal spray; no way it could last 4 days.

      January 24, 2012 at 11:07 | Report abuse |
    • Beck

      Same thing happened to me: got the shot, felt like I was dying for four days. I will never get another flu shot again.

      January 24, 2012 at 17:11 | Report abuse |
    • E

      The shot does not work if you already caught the flu. And why are you complaining about a 4 day sick from a vaccine? I caught H1N1 and was miserably sick for 2 weeks, would you rather have had that? .

      January 24, 2012 at 18:47 | Report abuse |
    • DK

      Tons of people basically get a mini flu from the flu shot – it causes sickness in many. Funny how ever you ever say that to a health care worker they tell you you can't get sick from the vaccine.. ok so it's just in my head genius.

      January 25, 2012 at 02:47 | Report abuse |
    • LisaP

      It's a common misconception that the flu shot will protect you from all types of flu- it doesn't. Typically, scientists and WHO (World Health Organization) look at those strains most likely to affect a population and develop vaccines to target those specific strains, maybe two to three in a shot. However, if you are exposed to a strain not in the vaccine, then the vaccine is useless. It is possible you just happened to be sickened by a different strain.

      January 25, 2012 at 14:57 | Report abuse |
  5. Chet

    As a past sufferer of H1N1, I can confirm that the disease is real and almost killed me. I had pleural effusions, edema, left lung collapse and had to have my lung reinflated. I've received 0$ for this endorsement :p

    January 24, 2012 at 10:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. DSBsky

    Oh you mean the ole "Swine flu that NEVER GOT A SINGLE, SOLITARY PIG SICK"? That swine flu? The one that was created by the government to make a few billion dollars, by making the American people sick enough to pay them for it? That H1 N1? I didn't get it because it was a fraud and I knew it.. Swine flu, you people will believe anything..

    January 24, 2012 at 11:28 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Wolf in the Fold

      What cave do you live in?

      January 24, 2012 at 14:08 | Report abuse |
    • Megan

      You do realize that the SWINE FLU originated in SWINE, right? Why do you think it was called Swine flu? It was found in American and Canadian hogs, as well as Argentina, Norway and Northern Ireland pigs. Did you research anything? Animals can carry diseases that don't make them sick, but if humans are infected could make them very sick or kill them. I KNOW someone who got H1N1 and he died twice before he started his long road to recovery which he is STILL fighting. So before you say it doesn't exist, talk to some people that had it or knew someone that had it and try to tell them that it doesn't exist.

      So did the government have the technology to create the 1918 strain of H1N1? Or do you not think that happened either? Even in this century, pandemics/epidemics can still happen. Medicine still isn't perfect. There's just more media, so there are more idiots to create conspiracy theories. Check your facts, bro. Not everyone is out to get you.

      January 24, 2012 at 15:48 | Report abuse |
  7. El Paos

    Interesting how many virus related movies came out during this time, such as carriers, and the fact that one out of five took it, yet how many did really get sick ( one out of how many?). I think it is best to way the need for it, rather than just to take it. vaccines have side effects, period, so do you really need it or not is the question. I could were a helmet when crossing the street because there's a chance I could get hit, one in how many? chance, who knows but get the point.

    January 24, 2012 at 14:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Phil

    I was reading through a forum the other day about sports. I noticed one guy mention that he had Guillain-Barre syndrome, a severe nervous system disorder.Knowing the dangers of vaccines, I felt like Private Messaging him, asking if he had taken the flu shot recently. I kept reading through the thread, and the man posted again, and he was talking about how unlucky his favorite team was, and how he gambles on them and loses, and how he is unlucky- first he got a serious disease from a flu shot, and now the Packers are out of the playoffs! The flu shot is only around 30% effective, BY THEIR OWN NUMBERS! I will risk a flu over Guillain-Barre syndrome and countless other disorders ANY DAY OF THE WEEK! Just take some vitamins to boost your immune system at all times, it really is that simple.

    January 24, 2012 at 14:08 | Report abuse | Reply
    • .

      It's really that simple if you don't have an underlying health problem, such as asthma. I have had asthma my whole 22 years of life, and therefore am more prone to illnesses that affect the lungs. (Such as flu viruses.) The chances of me dying from a flu virus (or having serious complications) are far higher than the chances of me getting anything from a vaccine. (I don't get regular flu shots, but I got that one. Which, by the way, has shown no complications.)

      January 24, 2012 at 15:53 | Report abuse |
  9. NRGDrinks101

    I bet zero healthy adults died from this flu. The death toll numbers from it were probably all from small children, sickly out-of-shape people, and very old people.

    January 24, 2012 at 15:57 | Report abuse | Reply
    • E

      You obviously never read anything about what was happening when it was happening. H1N1 was worse for people with healthy immune systems.

      January 24, 2012 at 18:49 | Report abuse |
    • Marcos

      Blackberry Cobbler & Key-Lime Pie w/regular crust.Honey Nut Cheerios & Fiber-One Honey Clusters.All Mexican, Italian, & Chinese Food with no fears.Just being able to eat out with others anyewhre they want & me not creating a fuss.

      October 12, 2012 at 06:50 | Report abuse |
  10. Todd

    Having caught the flu before... I prefer what ever minor side effects (usually a sore stiff arm) the Vaccine has over actually getting the full flu. Unlike a cold where you tend to feel under the weather but you can for the most part with a cup of hot tea you can sit back under blankets and watch TV or sleep it away. When you got the Flu you just feel bad, then after a week you feel like you have a cold. Get the flu shot it is worth it. Say $20 every year, and if you would get the flu every 10 years. That is still cheaper then loosing 2 weeks of work.

    January 24, 2012 at 15:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. krissy

    what H1N1 taught people without health insurance- eat lots of garlic and take herbal teas during flu season.

    January 24, 2012 at 18:08 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Nadia

      Actually, it told me to get vaccinated early and often, always remember to take my asthma meds, and get insurance ASAP because tamiflu is freaking expensive.

      I got H1N1, despite my love of garlic, citrus, and tea, days before the vaccine arrived in my county. First the kids got it, which meant I got to deal with febrile hallucinations, trying to keep the one with asthma out of the hospital, as well as dealing with everything else that comes with preschool kids and the flu. I got sick right when they started getting better, I spent the next 8 weeks extremely ill, visited the ER 3 times, had two bouts of pneumonia, had long lasting damage to my vocal cords (I could barely speak for those two months, and it took 6 months before my vocal cords fully healed), and basically was as sick as one can get and not be hospitalized or die.

      So, yeah, go ahead and keep believing that your magic foods will save you.

      January 24, 2012 at 23:11 | Report abuse |
  12. jane

    As a Gen Xer myself I also do not trust big pharm to educate me on the pros/cons and risks of any treatment. While I do somewhat trust my doctor I also realize that they are heavily influenced by what big pharm markets to and incentives them with. I try to independently research any course of treatment and weight the pros cons. I am also lucky that my sister is a NP and I have a good friend who is also a NP.

    January 24, 2012 at 22:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. chad

    Your exactly right that we do not trust the pharmaceutical industry, I think I will take my chances with the flu, I would rather not take the risk of guillan barre syndrome or have thimerasol a mercury containing compound injected into my body. Most who die from the flu or H1N1 are immunosuppresed. I work in healthcare, do vaccines have a place yes, does trying to scare people into taking them have a place no. The problem is we have been lied to so much that we dont know who is telling the truth.
    Look into the Gardasil shot how many young girls has it killed. Why is that acceptable? I would rather live an take my chances with HPV if I were a woman or teenage girl than to die.

    January 24, 2012 at 23:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. John E

    I'm gen x and no I didn't get the shot. Any intelligent person would know there's no way they could have possibly tested the vaccine long enough at the time it came out to tell you it is safe. Drugs go through multiyear fda trials and still get pulled from the market. The flu vaccine came out in one flu season. And how did they assess who was knowledgable about the flu? Self assessment??

    January 25, 2012 at 01:24 | Report abuse | Reply
    • .

      They knew it was safe because it was the exact same as a seasonal flu shot, with a different strain of virus. You do realize that there is a 'new' flu shot every year and that they don't spend years testing every single flu shot, right? They did the EXACT same thing here. Same flu shot, different strain.

      January 25, 2012 at 19:51 | Report abuse |


    January 25, 2012 at 02:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Adam Baum

    Peter Guzinya- Give a big hello and shoutout to your brother Richard!

    January 25, 2012 at 16:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. maia

    Guys, I hope you know the flu vaccine was a preventative measure. It was created to ensure that you did NOT get the virus. With every medication, there are side effects; that is true. However, the WHO prepared for the worst (a deadly epidemic) and it turned out not to be so bad. I, for one, am thankful that the vaccine was created in the possibility of a spike in disease fatality. Should the disease have been proven to be considerably more fatal, much different words would be said. As is, all anyone seems to be doing is complaining and creating conspiracy theories. If you don't trust it, by all means don't get the shot!

    January 26, 2012 at 08:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. lily

    more lies we humans are the LAB RATS

    January 26, 2012 at 22:39 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Carmen

      Polly,I totally drsegiae with this. God created all natural things to be used in the way he meant them to be used. Men have taken what God created, have modified it, and have sought to patent and profit by what they have modified. In the mean time they have declared illegal all that God created and declared good. God intended that his creation be used lawfully, but men have polluted, genetically modified, and destroyed his creation. God has created many natural remedies which men do would do well to learn about and use. I was involved in the faith movement for many years and have seen at least one baby die because of a mistaken faith. I believe God heals and that he sometimes heals by a word of faith, but only when he has given that word of faith to the one who speaks it. Otherwise we may pray presumptuously and suffer for it. You are very much mistaken.

      March 4, 2012 at 10:34 | Report abuse |
  19. Leland Castillo

    Awsome blog! I am loving it!! Will be back later to read some more. I am taking your feeds also


    March 6, 2021 at 15:25 | Report abuse | Reply

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