Just one in twenty always wear masks for swine flu prevention


Would you yourself want to get a swine flu vaccination? graph of japanese statisticsThis detailed survey from DIMSDRIVE Research into new-type influenza or swine flu, found that surprisingly few people are always wearing masks as a preventative measure. Perhaps there is a degree of confirmation bias in our own personal experiences as mask wearers do stand out, so we remember the definite sightings from a busy day on the train but forget the times when there’s just a couple of masks in the carriage.


Between the 14th and 29th of October 2009 13,263 members of the DIMSDRIVE monitor group completed a private online questionnaire. 54.1% of the sample were male, 0.8% in their teens, 8.9% in their twenties, 28.3% in their thirties, 32.0% in their forties, 19.0% in their fifties, and 11.0% aged sixty or older. Note that this survey was performed during a period when the number of reported cases was rapidly increasing.

Note that the Japanese term is 新型インフルエンザ, shingata infuruenza, new-type flu, but I’ll use swine flu in this translation as it’s easier to understand.

At work we have a bottle of disinfectant at the door that I always use just to show willing, but I don’t use it anywhere else.

I went today to the barber and all the staff were masked up, but no-one seemed to have a cough, but I suppose given the close-up work a barber does the mask is reassuring to the customer.

Research results

Q1: Have you had influenza this past year? (Sample size=13,263, multiple answer)

Yes, seasonal flu4.9%
Yes, swine flu1.0%
No flu at all94.3%

Q2: How worried are you about swine flu? (Sample size=13,263\)

Extremely worried13.3%
A little worried46.5%
Not really worried30.9%
Not worried at all6.2%
Don’t really know3.1%

Women were a bit more worried than men, and having young children was a major factor in increasing anxiety. 42.9% of the people with a pregnant women in the family were very worried, and another 44.1% were quite worried.

Q3: Which of the following swine flu-related topics do you know the details of? (Sample size=13,263, multiple answer)

Priority order for vaccination58.6%
What sort of people are at risk of complications48.6%
How to prevent catching it45.9%
Incubation period32.3%
What to do if you think you have caught it30.6%
How to treat it if you catch it29.3%
How to get vaccinated18.9%
Nothing in particular14.4%

Q4: When you go out and visit places with alcohol disinfectant at the doors, do you use it? (Sample size=13,263, multiple answer)

Always disinfect10.2%
Try to always disinfect38.5%
Don’t disinfect much30.5%
Don’t disinfect at all20.8%

As one might guess, the more worried people were the more likely they were to use disinfectant.

Q5: Which of the following swine flu preventative methods have you done as part of a daily routine? (Sample size=13,263, multiple answer)

Wash hands78.2%
Get enough sleep35.1%
Avoid crowded places30.1%
Eat nourishing meals30.0%
Live a regular lifestyle26.4%
Wear a mask (to SQ)22.8%
Air rooms properly18.3%
Avoid going out13.3%
Maintain room humidity11.4%
Use alcohol disinfectant at home11.1%
Avoid travelling to countries with epidemic outbreaks8.3%
Nothing at all12.8%

Almost half of all people with a pregnancy in the family wore masks.

Q5SQ: When do you wear a mask? (Sample size=3,030, multiple answer)

Whenever I go out25.5%
In crowded indoor locations (cinema, theatre, etc)35.3%
On public transport34.0%
When there’s a lot of people coughing26.0%
At school, work16.6%
In crowded outdoor locations (stadium, shopping arcade, etc)16.4%
Travelling to work, school (other than by public transport)10.8%
At home3.6%
No particular time or place10.6%

Next, it was explained that according to the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare web site as of the 2nd of October 2009 it would be 3,600 yen for the first shot and 2,550 yen for the second, if from the same hospital. If from a different hospital, the second time would also be 3,600 yen. However, those on a low income (about 30% of the population) would get some kind of discount from their local government.

Q6: What do you think about the cost of getting vaccinated? (Sample size=13,263)

A little expensive49.7%
Too expensive so won’t get it28.6%
Don’t know4.8%

Younger people were more likely to think the price was reasonable, although I suspect the motivation was due to not being in any of the high-risk groups thus not needing to get it.

Q7: Would you yourself want to get a swine flu vaccination? (Sample size=13,263)

Want to get vaccinated16.1%
Perhaps want to get vaccinated24.1%
Don’t really want to get vaccinated33.4%
Don’t want to get vaccinated at all16.2%
Don’t really know10.2%

As with masks, the younger one’s children were the more likely people were to want to get vaccinated. The same trend was even more obvious by degrees of worry – almost half of those very worried about swine flu defintely wanted to get the jab.

Q8: What would you like to know regarding swine flu vaccination? (Sample size=13,263, multiple answer)

Whether there are side-effects, what kinds of side-effects52.2%
The safety of it44.8%
How effective it is as a preventative41.2%
Which hospitals I can get it at36.9%
If I can get it soon after applying34.0%
From how soon after getting it will it be effective26.1%
Whether I can choose imported or domestic vaccine25.3%
Whether I will have adverse reactions24.5%
Whether I can get vaccinated if I have a chronic disease19.0%
No particular questions18.0%
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