1 in 3 US Parents Won't Get Flu Shots for Their Kids

Grant Boone
September 28, 2020

The flu shot is free and is available at most local pharmacies.

The pandemic doesn't seem to be changing parents' minds about the importance of the flu vaccine.

"In winter, it's cold and flu season", Pryde said.

Just a third of parents believe that having their child get the flu vaccine is more important this year, a national poll suggests.

Though public health experts stress the need for people of all ages to get the seasonal flu vaccine during the COVID-19 pandemic, 1 in 3 US parents said they don't plan on taking their child for a flu shot this fall.

Is this the flu, or am I positive for COVID-19?

Influenza (Flu) and COVID-19 are both contagious respiratory illnesses, but they are caused by different viruses.

Children under age 5, and especially those younger than 2, are at high risk for serious, flu-related complications. The CDC reported 188 pediatric flu deaths during the 2019-2020 flu season.

The nationally representative Mott Poll report includes 1,992 responses from parents of children age 2-18 years who were surveyed in August.

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"The important thing this year is to make sure that kids get a flu vaccine even when the family hasn't already established a pattern or a habit of making sure kids get one every year", said Clark.

It is most worrisome now that schools are reopening and children may get in contact with infected peers during in-person classes. This may reduce opportunities for providers to give a strong recommendation about flu vaccination for children and to answer parents' questions about flu vaccine safety and effectiveness. "In cases where the individual does, in fact, get influenza, vaccinated people are much less likely to have serious complications and hospitalizations", she said.

Common reasons cited include unfounded concerns about side effects or mistaken beliefs that a flu shot isn't necessary or effective.

Community education efforts will also be increased in coming weeks, as county leaders push both flu and COVID-19 prevention measures.

The poll also shows that some parents do not want to bring their children to a health care setting out of fear of exposure to the coronavirus.

Parents whose health care provider strongly recommends flu vaccination are more likely to have their kids vaccinated this year, but less than half of parents said their child's regular health care provider strongly recommends a flu shot this year. Among parents who will not seek flu vaccine for their child this year, 1 in 7 say they are keeping their child away from health care sites due to concerns about COVID.

Some 42 percent of the parents are anxious about the side effects of flu shots.

Reports from the state health department and CDC indicate that during the pandemic, the overall rates of childhood vaccinations dropped significantly in states like MI. The virus in the vaccine is not active, and an inactive virus can not transmit disease.

This is why the flu vaccine without charge has been extended to a number of other groups this year, including to children aged two to 12.

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