January 24th, 2012
12:02 AM ET
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.
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.
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