The public is turning its back on swine flu vaccine, a snapshot survey of family doctors suggests.
A poll of 107 GPs found that just 46 per cent of patients offered the vaccine – including pregnant women and those with chronic conditions such as asthma – have accepted it.
Resistance to the jab was particularly high among pregnant women, according to Pulse magazine, which commissioned the survey. Some people said they were concerned about possible side effects of the jab, while others believed there was no need to have it because the virus is mild in most of those affected.
Cases of swine flu have risen more slowly than expected since September and have levelled off recently at around 64,000 new infections a week in England, just above baseline levels for seasonal flu.
The Government published leaflets and online information last week aimed at persuading pregnant women, who are particularly vulnerable to swine flu, to have the vaccine, but family doctors found little enthusiasm for the jab.
Dr Chris Udenze, a GP in Nottingham, told Pulse that there was widespread scepticism about the vaccine among his pregnant patients.
"In all the pregnant women we've offered it to, I think only about one in 20 has agreed," he said.
Dr Andy Rose, a GP in Kensington, west London, said his practice was encountering "considerable scepticism" from pregnant women.
However, Dr Toby Davies, a GP in Tidworth, Wiltshire, said his practice had received its initial 500 doses last week, and was already running low.
"We're irritated that small practices received the same number of vials as large practices. We have had to delay our programme," he said.
A spokesman for the Department of Health said the vaccine was recommended for those in the at risk groups because they were more likely to be severely ill if infected with swine flu.