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Poll: H1N1 alarm, vaccine fears both rise

Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano speaks to Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius (R) during a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on the current H1N1 flu situation and the nation's response to the epidemic on Capitol Hill in Washington on October 21, 2009. UPI/Roger L. Wollenberg
Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano speaks to Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius (R) during a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on the current H1N1 flu situation and the nation's response to the epidemic on Capitol Hill in Washington on October 21, 2009. UPI/Roger L. Wollenberg | License Photo

WASHINGTON, Oct. 22 (UPI) -- Americans are increasingly alarmed about the global swine flu pandemic, but most say they won't get vaccinated against the disease, a national poll indicated.

Fifty-two percent said they were "a great deal" or "somewhat" worried they or someone in their household would become infected, up from 39 percent of those polled in August, the Washington Post-ABC News poll suggested.

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Fears are growing fastest among young adults, among the most vulnerable to the flu, with 47 percent of those ages 18 to 29 worried, up from 26 percent in August, the poll said.

But more than six in 10 said they wouldn't get vaccinated.

Barely 52 percent of parents said they'd have their children vaccinated, another high-risk group, even though parents tend to be more worried about the flu than the population at large, the survey indicated.

The H1N1 flu -- different from seasonal flu and declared a global pandemic June 11 -- has infected more than a million people in the United States and caused more than 600 deaths and more than 6,000 hospitalizations.

Two-thirds of those polled said they were confident the vaccine was safe, but only 22 percent said they were "very" confident it was.

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Federal health officials warned doctors this week not to rely on flu tests to make decisions about whether to treat sick patients with anti-flu drugs.

"The time it will take to get the lab test back shouldn't be waited for," said Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of immunization and respiratory disease for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"If you have a person who is severely ill or a person with risk factors like pregnancy, asthma, diabetes, children under 2, and you suspect flu, we recommend any antiviral medicines be given promptly," she said.

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