The irrational fear of H1N1 vaccine

Much to my dismay, I've not been able to get H1N1 vaccine for my kids yet (I figure as a healthy 37-year old, I'm low in the queue and should have to wait a while).  Unfortunately, a lot of Americans are irrationally afraid of this vaccine (thanks Bill Maher, Glenn Beck and other Morons):

At the same time, however, many Americans are hesitant about being
vaccinated or having their children inoculated. More than six in 10 say
they will not get vaccinated, and only 52 percent of parents say they
plan to have their children vaccinated, even though parents tend to be
more worried about the flu.

This is bad because far and away the best method for stopping the flu is vaccinating children.  Kids are the major vector of the flu.  People will die from this flu and it will be largely spread by un-vaccinated children.  An older adult without a vaccination living in a community where a healthy majority of the children are vaccinated is much safer than a older adult who is vaccinated but is in a community where most children have not been.  Here's a great article from several years back in Slate about the importance of "herd immunity."  Getting vaccinated is not just about yourself, but the herd, e.g., your community. 

Anyway, what's missing from the Post data, that I'd really like to know, is how the data of fear of the H1N1 vaccine compares to what people think about the seasonal flu vaccine.  That's critical to analyze just how bad this response is.  Maybe all sorts of people are scared of the regular flu vaccine, too– inquiring minds want to know.

And just for fun, here's Jon Stewart on the matter:

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About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

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