By Daniel Martin
Almost half of pregnant women could turn down the swine flu vaccine when it is available later this year.
Mothers-to-be will refuse to have the jab because they are worried it could do more harm than good to themselves and their babies, a poll shows.
A similar proportion of mothers said they would not take their young children to be immunised, even though they are most at risk of catching the virus.
It raises the prospect that many of the millions of jabs ordered by the Government at a cost of millions of pounds will not be used because people do not trust ministers’ insistence that they are safe.
Expectant women are one of the target groups for vaccination, and all will be offered the jabs before the end of the year.
Pregnant mothers’ reluctance to have the vaccine follows that of nurses and GPs in recent surveys. Many mothers-to-be appear to think that if even medical professionals are concerned about the jab, why should they go for it?
The survey, published by the website Mumsnet, showed that 48 per cent of pregnant women who responded said they ‘probably’ or ‘definitely’ would not have the jab. Only 6 per cent said they definitely would have it.
The poll also found that 46 per cent of those with under-fives were unlikely take them for the jab.
Carrie Longton, of Mumsnet, said: ‘It’s obvious from these results and from discussions about this on Mumset.com that lots of mums and mums-to-be are questioning whether or not to have the swine flu vaccine or give the vaccine to their children.
‘Some are worried about how well it’s been tested; others about its effectiveness and side effects.
‘Everyone wants to do the best for their child or unborn child but many parents seem, from our poll, to be more anxious about the safety of the vaccine than they do about catching swine flu.’
The survey comes weeks after a series of polls suggested many in the medical profession were luke warm about the jabs – because swine flu had not turned out to be as virulent as feared.
A poll of 1,500 nurses found that only a third said they would definitely be vaccinated, while two smaller surveys of doctors showed that about half would say no.
The polls raise further questions over the Government’s planned mass vaccination programme. The jab, currently being processed, will be fast-tracked and will not be fully tested before it is administered to patients.
There are also concerns the jab can spark cases of Guillain Barre Syndrome, which can lead to paralysis and even death.
A mass swine flu vaccination programme in the US in 1976 caused far more deaths than the disease it was designed to combat, and the Health Protection Agency watchdog has asked doctors to look out for cases of GBS when the vaccinations begin.
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