Jerusalemites not lining up for swine flu shot

Jerusalemites not lining

Despite the World Health Organization's best efforts to assure the world that the H1N1 virus vaccine is safe and critical to staying healthy in the coming months, fear, confusion and indifference regarding the vaccine still abound in the capital. "I'm not sure if I'll get the vaccine," said Shimon Madar, a student at the Jerusalem College of Technology from Ashdod. "Maybe I'll get it if my university organizes something, but I'm not really worried." The vaccine will soon be available in Israel - 250,000 doses arrived on Monday and the Health Ministry will hold a press conference next week to detail its distribution - but for now, patients at health clinics are more concerned with receiving the regular, seasonal flu vaccine. At the Kupat Holim Meuhedet Clinic on the corner of Jaffa Road and Rehov Haturim, demand was high for the ordinary flu vaccine, and supplies ran out around 1 p.m. on Tuesday, but the people waiting in line weren't necessarily planning on returning to be vaccinated again for swine flu. "I'm definitely not getting [the H1N1] vaccine," said Anna Richman, before she entered the nurse's office for a flu shot. "I'm very healthy, I wash my hands, I take care of myself. If an epidemic breaks out, then I'll get it." Richman also cited the fact that the ministry plans on limiting the vaccination to high-risk groups - pregnant women, people with asthma, etc. - before opening it up to the general public. "They'll only take the sick anyway," she said. "So I'm not going to show up." Some people were unaware that it would be possible to receive both vaccines. "I've been taking the normal flu vaccine for 30 years" one woman said. "And it's worked so far. I'm certainly not going to stop now." And though some people would like to take the vaccine, they aren't convinced of its safety. "I'm worried about [the H1N1 vaccine]," said Rachel Avraham from the Ramot neighborhood. "I heard someone in the waiting room say that there are some dangerous materials in it. I don't think it's entirely safe." The relative unpopularity of the swine flu vaccine reflects the difference in the number of deaths associated with the two viruses. The H1N1 flu has been involved in the deaths of 32 Israelis since its outbreak in April, while hundreds die each year from the ordinary flu.