Flu season is upon us, and there is growing concern among Americans about contracting the H1N1 virus also known as “swine flu.” 51% of Americans report they are concerned that someone in their household will get the illness including 14% who are very concerned. 32% of residents are not very concerned about coming down with the virus, and an additional 17% are not concerned at all.
The proportion of Americans who are concerned has increased since Marist’s swine flu poll in early September. At that time, 36% had some degree of worry about becoming infected with swine flu including 11% who were very concerned. 35% and 29%, respectively, reported that they were either not very concerned or not concerned at all.
Region, race, and parental guardianship all play a role here. Looking at region, residents living in the South are more concerned about contracting the H1N1 virus than are those in other parts of the country.
And, as in the Marist Poll’s September survey, there is a racial divide on this issue. African American residents are the most worried about the illness. 63% report they are concerned they or a family member will become sick. These proportions have grown since September. Early last month, 49% of this group reported they were concerned. Worry among whites has also grown. 47% say they are concerned compared with 30% in Marist’s prior survey. Looking at Latinos, 54% are, at least, fearful about the virus. In September, 57% of Latinos expressed concern.
56% of parents nationwide are worried about a member of their family coming down with the virus including about one in five who are very concerned. Households without children are slightly less concerned. Here, 48% of non-parents are either very worried or worried. Concern among both groups has grown since Marist last asked this question.
Worry may have increased, because more Americans say they, personally, know someone who has contracted the illness. Although 75% are not acquainted with a person who has had swine flu, 25% say they are. This proportion has grown since last month when only 10% said they personally knew someone who became sick from the H1N1 virus. With the exception of those in the Northeast, there has been a spike in the proportions of residents who report knowing a person who has suffered from swine flu with the greatest jump occurring in the South.
Once again, parental guardianship makes a difference. About one-third of parents — 34% — say they know someone who has had the H1N1 virus. This compares with 20% of those without children. In September, 12% of parents and 8% of non-parents reported being an acquaintance of a swine flu sufferer.
Age also impacts this question. More younger Americans than older ones say they know someone who suffered from the H1N1 virus.
Majority Would Receive Vaccine
If presented with the choice to receive the vaccine against the H1N1 virus, 52% of residents would take it. 42% would not, and 6% are unsure.
Although majorities of Americans living in the Northeast, South, and West would be vaccinated, those in the Midwest divide. 44% would opt for getting the shot while 48% would not. Looking at race, a considerable proportion of Latinos — 66% — would opt to be vaccinated. This compares with 49% of whites and 46% of African Americans.
Age, though, is not a factor. 53% of those under age 45 and 51% of those 45 or older wish to be vaccinated.