More than half of Chinese don't want swine flu shot: poll

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More than half of all Chinese do not plan to be vaccinated against swine flu because they are unsure about the safety of the shot, according to a survey by state media published Monday.

The poll by the China Daily and popular web portal sohu.com said more than 54 percent of the 2,000 respondents said they did not want the A(H1N1) vaccine -- a huge turnaround from two months ago, when 76 percent said they did.

"The vaccine has been developed and administered so quickly that I couldn't help questioning its quality and reliability," the paper quoted 36-year-old Zhang Lin, who refused the shot for her eight-year-old son, as saying.

China, which has the world's largest population at 1.3 billion people, has launched a mass swine flu vaccination campaign in a bid to stave off large outbreaks, especially as winter -- and the regular flu season -- sets in here.

But only 30 percent of those polled by the China Daily said they definitely would like to receive the shot. About 15 percent said they would make a decision based on what other people did.

The government has said it plans to inoculate five percent of the population, or 65 million people, against swine flu by year's end. So far, 300,000 people have received the vaccination.

More than 33,000 cases of A(H1N1) influenza had been reported as of Friday, according to health ministry figures, with the number of infections accelerating in recent weeks. Two deaths have so far been confirmed.

Health authorities have repeatedly warned they are facing a "grim" task of preventing outbreaks and keeping the death toll low.

"Tens of millions could be infected," the China Daily quoted Zeng Guang, chief epidemiologist at the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as saying.

The World Health Organization said nearly 5,000 swine flu deaths had been recorded as of October 18.

sst/ceb/mtp

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