1 in 3 parents do not plan on having their child get the flu vaccine, according to a new poll.
C.S. Mott Children's Hospital conducted the national poll on children's health, and found that flu season could be worse as the nation is already dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We may see peaks of flu and COVID-19 at the same time, which could overwhelm the health care system, strain testing capacity and potentially reduce our ability to catch and treat both respiratory illnesses effectively,” Mott poll co-director Sarah Clark said in a release.
Families least likely to not get the flu were those who didn't last year, according to the poll. About 96% of parents whose kids did get the flu shot said they intend to have their kids get it again.
“Our report finds that even during the pandemic, some parents don’t see the flu vaccine as more urgent or necessary. This heightens concerns about how the onset of flu season may compound challenges in managing COVID-19," Clark said.
“A key challenge for public health officials is how to reach parents who do not routinely seek seasonal flu vaccination for their child,” Clark added. “When getting a yearly flu vaccine is not a pattern, parents need to be prompted to think about why it’s essential for their child to get vaccinated.”
The most common reason for kids not getting the vaccine, parents said, was concerns about side effects or the belief it isn't effective.
“There is a lot of misinformation about the flu vaccine, but it is the best defense for children against serious health consequences of influenza and the risk of spreading it to others,” Clark says.
14% of parents said they would not get their kids the flu shot because they are keeping them away from health care sites due to the risk of COVID-19 exposure.
About 9% said their child is afraid of needles.
Since 2010, the CDC said influenza has led to between 9 million and 45 million illnesses, 140,000 to 810,000 hospitalizations and 12,000 to 61,000 deaths a year.
Kids younger than five, and especially those younger than 2 years old, are a high risk of developing serious flu-related problems.
According to the poll, there were 1,992 responses from parents of children between 2-18 years old surveyed in August.