While the coronavirus pandemic wears on and nearly two dozen states see a rise in cases, one-third of parents say they have no plans to have their child vaccinated against the flu this year.
A new National Poll On Children’s Health released Monday by C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital found that 32% of parents say their child is unlikely to get the flu vaccine this year. The most common reason for skipping the vaccine: concerns about side effects from the flu shot, 42%, and the belief that the vaccine is unnecessary, 40%, or ineffective, 32%.
Fourteen percent of parents are not vaccinating their children against the flu because they are keeping them away from health care sites due to COVID-19. Among parents whose child did not get the flu vaccine last year, only 28% say their child is likely to get it this year, compared to 96% of parents whose children received the shot last year.
While public health experts say it is especially important for kids to get the flu vaccine during the coronavirus pandemic, just 1 in 3 parents say it is more important this year for their children to get the shot than it has been in previous years.
Eight percent of parents say it is less important to receive the vaccine, while 58% say it is about the same, the poll found.
Public health experts are urging people to get vaccinated against the flu during the pandemic in order to limit the stress on health care systems, which includes reducing the number of flu-related hospital and doctor visits and conducting fewer diagnostic tests to distinguish between the flu and COVID-19.
Nearly half of parents, 49%, say it is very likely their child will receive the flu shot, and 19% say it is likely. Parents of teens are less likely to seek the vaccination, with 65% of parents of 13-to-18-year-olds saying their child will get the shot. Nearly three-quarters, 73%, of parents of kids aged 2 to 4 will have their child vaccinated, and 70% of parents of children aged 5 to 12 will.
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Less than half of parents, 44%, say their child’s regular health care provider strongly recommends that their child receives the flu vaccine during the COVID-19 pandemic, and about one-quarter, 23%, say the provider recommends it.
Among parents whose child’s provider strongly recommends the vaccine, 92% intend for their child to be vaccinated, according to the poll, compared to 62% of those whose provider recommends it.
Given the results of the poll, health care providers should “pursue multiple strategies to emphasize the importance of the flu vaccine during this COVID pandemic,” including recommending it for all children ages 6 months and older, adding messages to their websites and offices about receiving the vaccine, and sending reminders to patients.