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Emerging Health Threats Journal 2009, 2:e8. doi: 10.3134/ehtj.09.008
© 2009 N Henrich and B Holmes; licensee Emerging Health Threats Journal.
ORIGINAL RESEARCH ARTICLE
The public's acceptance of novel vaccines during a pandemic: A focus group study and its application to influenza H1N1
Natalie Henrich12 and Bev Holmes3
1. University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.
2. Centre for Health Evaluation and Outcome Sciences - St Paul's Hospital, Vancouver, Canada.
3. Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada.
Correspondence
Natalie Henrich, University of British Columbia, 6303 NW Marine Drive, Vancouver, British Columbia, V6T 1Z1, Canada
E-mail: natalie.henrich@gmail.com
Received    07 May 2008
Revised 01 July 2009
Accepted 12 August 2009
Abstract
As influenza H1N1 spreads around the world, health officials are considering the development and use of a new vaccine to protect the public and help control the outbreak. Acceptance of novel vaccines during health crises, however, is influenced by perceptions of a range of risks, including risk of infection, risk of becoming severely ill or dying if infected, and risk of serious side- and long-term effects of the vaccine. Eleven focus groups were conducted with the public in Vancouver, Canada in 2006 and 2007 to explore how people assess these risks and how these assessments relate to willingness to use novel vaccines in a pandemic. Concerns about using new vaccines during a pandemic differ from concerns about using established products in a non-crisis situation. Participants were hesitant to use the novel vaccines because of a low perception of risk of infection early in a pandemic coupled with the many uncertainties that surround new vaccines and the emerging infectious disease, and concern that unsafe pharmaceuticals may be rushed to market during the health crisis. Understanding adults' assessment of risks related to, and willingness to use, novel vaccines during a pandemic can help officials promote disease-control measures in ways that improve the likelihood of acceptance by the public and may increase uptake of an H1N1 vaccine.
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