Germans shun H1N1 vaccine

The German government has ordered 18 million more vaccinations against swine flu. But two-thirds of Germans say they don’t want to be immunized.

In the latest step to fight an anticipated breakout of the H1N1 swine flu virus, Germany’s 16 state health ministers have announced they plan to order another 18 million vaccination units. That’s enough to immunize nine million more people and ensures there is enough stock should demand surge later in the year.

The health ministers have already ordered 50 million swine flu vaccinations for 25 million people, as each person requires two doses of the vaccine. That means there will be enough vaccine to cover 40 percent of the German population.

The latest order is subject to funding being available. The thorny question of who will bear the cost of this – the federal government, the health insurers, the state health departments or local authorities – is being discussed at a special working group meeting in Berlin on Wednesday.

A new study conducted by the Forsa Institute for DAK, one of Germany’s largest health insurers, revealed that a surprising number of Germans do not plan to get immunized.

In the study of 1,001 people aged between 18 and 60 years, 62 percent said they would “definitely not,” or “almost definitely not” let themselves be vaccinated this autumn when the first swine flu vaccines become available.

Eighty-two percent of Germans said that swine flu poses a “fairly low” or “very low” danger.

Bavarians, in Germany’s south, in particular rejected vaccination. Only nine percent said they would “definitely” go to their doctor to be immunized compared to 14 percent of Germans on average. It’s a different picture in eastern Germany, where almost a quarter of those who took part in the study said they were “definitely” going to get immunized.

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