Although health experts consistently recommend that children receive annual flu vaccines, nearly a third of America’s parents said they don’t plan to get their children the vaccine this year, according to a report published Monday by Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.
The National Poll on Children’s Health, conducted last month in collaboration with the University of Michigan’s Department of Pediatrics and Communicable Diseases and Child Health Evaluation and Research Center, asked 1,977 parents whether they planned to get their children the flu vaccine this year and their reasoning behind the decision.
“There appears to be an echo chamber around (the) flu vaccine,” said Sarah Clark, the associate director of the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health. “Child health providers are a critical source of information to explain the rationale for annual flu vaccination and to address parents’ questions about flu vaccine safety and effectiveness.”
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The poll found that two-thirds of parents planned to get their children vaccinated, most on the recommendation of their health care providers. Officials said these parents reported having four times as many sources encouraging vaccination than discouraging it.
Parents who reported they were unlikely to get their children flu vaccinations said they got most of their information on vaccinations from family members, close friends and other parents. They reported having seven times as many sources speaking out against vaccination than for it, officials said.
“It’s important to acknowledge that for some parents, child health providers are not the sole influence -- or even the primary influence -- on decisions about the flu vaccine,” Clark said. “For these families, we need to explore other mechanisms to convey accurate information and allow parents to hear a more balanced viewpoint.”
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During the 2017-2018 season, 180 children died after contracting the illness, which was the most severe on record.
Experts recommend everyone over 6 months should get the flu vaccine. Children under the age of 8 who are receiving the shot for the first time should receive two doses spaced a month apart to build their immunity.