updated 10/7/2009 3:55:23 PM ET 2009-10-07T19:55:23

The people who most want the swine flu vaccine are older people, who will be last in line, says a new Associated Press-GfK poll.

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The survey raises questions about government efforts to stem illnesses already spreading widely across the country.

Vaccine started trickling out this week, but only 52 percent of Americans say they're likely to line up for it, said the poll released Wednesday.

This brand-new flu — what scientists call the 2009 H1N1 strain — is mostly a younger person's infection. Children, young adults and pregnant women are supposed to be first in line for vaccinations.

Yet 62 percent of people 65 and older say they'll likely seek a swine flu shot, even though that older generation appears to have some resistance to the new strain — and thus is supposed to wait to be vaccinated until those with a higher risk go first. In contrast, 45 percent of people ages 18 to 29 want to be vaccinated.

And while nearly six in 10 parents are likely to give permission for their children to get swine flu vaccine at school, just 37 percent said they're very likely to. Pollsters have long found that people exaggerate their intent to take recommended health steps, suggesting that how many kids take advantage of the convenience of in-school inoculations may fall somewhere in the middle.

On the other hand, interest in the regular winter flu vaccine is rising: 57 percent of adults want that inoculation, a 9-point increase since the first AP poll on the subject in July.

Concern about swine flu is what's driving the decision to get that vaccine. The AP-GfK poll found 59 percent of people fear getting the new flu strain, and people who are concerned that they or a loved one will get sick are twice as likely to want vaccine.

About 72 percent are concerned about potential vaccine side effects, although half of those people say they're still likely to be inoculated.

The survey of 1,003 adults with cell and landline telephones was conducted from Oct. 1-5. It had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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