Friday, May 8, 2009

Harvard Polling Data on H1N1 Awareness Among Americans

Harvard School of Public Health Polling Data

Dr. Robert Blendon of Harvard School of Public Health joined the CDC briefing today to speak about Harvard's on the spot polling about people's perceptions of public health messages on H1N1 and what issues need to be clarified.

  • 67% of Americans are washing their hands or using sanitizers more often
  • 77% of people are continuing to follow the news on H1N1
  • While 61% are not concerned that they or a family member will get sick from H1N1 in the next year
  • People with children in school are substantially more concerned than those without. Half the parents didn't know what schools are doing to protect kids from H1N1.
  • School officials need to clarify their plans and explicitly address parents' concerns.
  • 83% are satisfied with district, local, and federal public health actions.
  • 88% satisfied with information they are receiving regarding H1N1.

CDC's Dr. Besser and Dr. Blendon agreed this indicates that public health officials have communicated the risks appropriately; people are concerned and watchful but not fearful of H1N1. They are also taking general hygiene precautions (increased handwashing). Both noted that this may help reduce spread of other respiratory infections through better cough/sneeze etiquette and handwashing behaviors.

Also interesting is that individuals with family members in higher risk groups (young children in school) understand the heightened risk and are appropriately seeking information from school officials.

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