Mike the Mad Biologist

Bill Maher notwithstanding, a recent Pew survey shows that Democrats are far more willing to get a swine flu vaccination than either independents or Republicans:

politicsofvaccination1

For every four Democrats willing to get the vaccine, only three Republicans and independents are willing to do so. While I’m tempted to say something snarky, if this political divide holds up, this actually has serious repercussions for the spread of TEH SWINEY FLOO!!.

At both the state and local levels, there are often sharp skews in party affiliation. I’ve spot checked some county registration data for localities and it’s worse than the state differences, which already can be extreme). In a heavily Republican state (e.g., Utah), people will not avail themselves of the vaccine as much as a state like Massachusetts would. Certain regions will have very low vaccination levels, which will mean that ‘herd immunity’ won’t even have a chance in hell of happening.

Worse, even though people say they will get vaccinated, that doesn’t mean they’ll actually go through with it. They are more likely to do so, however, if they routinely interact with people who plan to take the vaccine and encourage them to do so. Likewise, there could be a negative feedback loop where someone on the fence is dissuaded from taking the vaccine.

This is why public health science should not be politicized. With this depressing post at an end, I leave you with some gallows humor:

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Doubt Break ’09
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political Humor Ron Paul Interview

Comments

  1. #1 NewEnglandBob
    October 19, 2009

    I just love it when Jon Stewart shows how idiotic the Faux News people are.

  2. #2 Hilary
    October 19, 2009

    The data’s interesting but I’m not sure that willingness to have swine flu vaccine necessarily reflects support for vaccination more generally. Although on the whole I’m a strong advocate of vaccine programmes, I personally wouldn’t bother with H1N1 influenza vaccine because I have no risk factors for severe disease and do not perform any essential public service role.

    Here in the UK the NHS rules me ineligible for those reasons (though my husband will qualify on account of his asthma). Given that vaccine supplies are limited, this seems to me the correct, liberal approach – reserve supplies for those at greatest personal risk and those whose illness would cause most disruption.

  3. #3 Shin
    October 19, 2009

    It is a fact that the vaccine Pandemrix contains immune adjuvants, and it is a fact that in pregnant women, adjuvants increase the risk of an immune response against their unborn children. Pointless fearmongering and conspiracy theories aside, this should no be forgotten.

  4. #4 Anon1
    October 19, 2009

    Eh, not so sure that eagerness to get the swine flu vaccination says much about support for vaccines in general. The face of the autism anti-vaxxers is heavily liberal, and the face of the anti-HPV vaxxers is heavily conservative. I haven’t noticed flu vaccines being terribly politicized, though– these numbers may just reflect the fact that more women are liberal and more women are worried about swine flu, or that more young people are liberal and fewer young people are worry about vaccine side effects, or something along those lines.

  5. #5 Steve-O
    October 20, 2009

    My situation is like that of Hilary. My R politics are only an issue in that I’m something of a tightwad & suspect people overuse our medical system.

    But I had absolutely no problem taking my diabetic retiree father to the clinic.

  6. #6 Owen
    April 22, 2011

    @shin
    Can you provide a citation? Which adjuvant? The only references I can find that relate to adverse effects of adjuvants are from those sites that engage in “Pointless fearmongering and conspiracy theories …”. Even on those
    I’m not seeing a specific claim that adjuvants result in a maternal immune response against the baby.
    Thanks

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