Americans are getting more worried about catching swine flu — but the people who most want that vaccine are the age that will be last in line, says a new Associated Press-GfK poll.
As the government races to get swine flu vaccine ready to ship next month, just over half the population — 57 percent — is likely to line up for it, said the poll released Thursday.
Unlike the regular winter flu that kills mostly people 65 and older, the new swine flu — what doctors call the 2009 H1N1 strain — is mostly a younger person's infection. That older generation appears to have some resistance to it.
So the government says that among the first in line for H1N1 shots should be children and young adults ages 6 months to 24 years, and pregnant women. Last, after some other groups, will come the Medicare population.
Yet 82 percent of seniors said they're likely to seek a swine flu shot, the new poll found.
Overall, concern is rising: About 56 percent of people are concerned about themselves or someone in the family getting swine flu, a 13-point jump since the last AP poll on the subject in July.
About 61 percent of parents would give permission for their children to get a swine flu vaccination at school, unchanged from the summer. About half of 18- to 29-year-olds told pollsters they'd line up, too, a 15-point increase from summer.
The government has bought tens of millions of doses of swine flu vaccine and expects to start shipping them in mid-October to state health departments. They in turn will decide how the vaccine is distributed: From in-school inoculations to mass vaccination clinics to more run-of-the-mill drugstore vaccinations.
"Older people do not have the same risk" with this new flu as they do with regular winter flu, said Dr. Gregory Poland of the Mayo Clinic.
If there turns out to be enough swine flu vaccine to go around, seniors will be welcomed to get it, too, he said.
But meantime, they do need to get the regular winter flu vaccine — which is available now in doctors' offices and retails stores. About four in five of the 65-and-up group said they'd likely get a regular flu shot. Overall, the AP-GfK poll showed the population split on whether they or their children would get a regular flu shot in addition to the separate H1N1 version.
The survey of 1,001 adults with cell and landline telephones was conducted from Sept. 3-8. It had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.