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Few Adults in Late 30s Got Flu Shots During Swine Flu Outbreak

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(ANN ARBOR, Mich.) -- Flu season may be a few months old, but peak season is yet to come.  And new research has found that a large number of people at risk may still be refusing to protect themselves.

Flu normally hits hardest in January or February, and infectious disease specialists say so far, this season has been very mild.  But there are reports that nine people have died from swine flu this season in Mexico -- where the first swine flu outbreak began back in 2009, ultimately claiming 17,000 lives worldwide.

Despite knowing how potentially deadly swine flu could be, a new report has found that only 20 percent of adults in their late 30s said they got a flu shot during the 2009 outbreak.

In a survey, researchers from the University of Michigan asked approximately 3,000 adults between the ages of 36 and 39 -- members of the age group known as Generation X -- questions about how they responded to the 2009 swine flu pandemic, such as how they kept informed about the illness and whether they got flu shots to protect themselves or their family members.

The researchers have been following this same group of people for 25 years, and every year they survey them about their attitudes and behaviors related to different issues. Their work is known as the Longitudinal Study of American Youth (LSAY).

According to the latest results delving into attitudes about the flu vaccine, only one in five adults got a flu shot, but nearly 65 percent said they were moderately concerned about the swine flu, and about 60 percent said they kept informed about it.

"This was the first epidemic that was relevant to this age group," said Jon Miller, director of LSAY at the University of Michigan.  "We were interested in how they used their prior science knowledge and prior education to make sense of this thing."

Adults in this age group, he explained, are very adept at gathering information from a variety of sources, including newspapers, magazines, online and from family, friends, and colleagues.

While they managed to stay abreast of what was happening with the disease outbreak, the majority of them did not get flu shots.  Though, a larger number of the cohort with young children at home did get the flu shot to prevent the swine flu.

"If they had children at home, and about two-thirds of them did, it became more relevant to them to get a flu shot," he said.

Miller added the researchers did not ask the survey participants why they didn't get vaccinated, but he and other experts say a number of factors likely came into play.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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