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One third of parents reduce influenza vaccination for their child this year

Sarah J. Clark and C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National voting on child health showed that a significant number of parents…

Sarah J. Clark

and C.S. Mott Children‘s Hospital National voting on child health showed that a significant number of parents choose not to vaccinate their child against influenza. The survey showed that almost 40% made their decision based on what they read or heard about the vaccine. Researchers said that this is the result of an “echo chamber effect” related to negative information.

In addition, one in five parents stated that their child’s provider did not recommend the flu vaccine this year.

CDC recommends that everyone aged 6 months and older be vaccinated against flu every year and may choose between flu shot or FluMist (live attenuated influenza vaccine, AstraZeneca). This year, AAP has decided not to approve the nasal spray vaccine unless another child is to be vaccinated.

“Child Health Care is an important source of information for explaining the motivation for annual influenza vaccination and parents’ questions about influenza safety and efficacy”, Sarah J. Clark, MPH, Associated Researcher at the University of Michigan Medical School in Department of Pediatrics and Co-Chair of CS Mott Children’s Hospital National Vote on Children’s Health, said in a press release. “Without clear guidance from the provider, parents can leave incorrect information, such as the suggestion that flu vaccine causes flu.”


Four out of 10 parents said they based their decisions on the flu vaccine on what they read and heard. Those who use this as their primary source of information were less likely to have their child vaccinated compared with parents following their healthcare counselors recommendation . Click to enlarge

Source: C.S. Receives the Children’s Hospital’s National Polling on Children’s Health at the University of Michigan

The survey included 1,977 parents aged 18 and over who were randomly chosen and had at least one child. About half (51%) reported that their child’s provider strongly recommended vaccination, while 26% of their suppliers “mostly” recommended vaccination. Almost 25% of parents did not remember that their supplier made a recommendation and 2% reported that their supplier suggested that their children remained unvaccinated against flu.

Just under half of the parents (48%) agreed that they followed their caregiver’s recommendations. If the parents received a recommendation, they probably said (87%) to have their child vaccinated this year.

According to the researchers, 38% of patients based their decisions on what they heard or read. More than half of these parents reported that they would not have their baby vaccinated this year.

“There seems to be an echo chamber around the influenza vaccine,” said Clark. “Parents who do not choose influenza vaccination for their child report that they hear or read opinions that question or oppose the vaccine. At the same time, parents who decided to give their child a opinion about influenza vaccine that strongly supports vaccination.”

Clark and colleagues said that Parents who chose not to vaccinate their child had seven times more negative sources of information about the vaccine. The most influential negative information contained comments from family or close friends (45%) or other parents (44%). Internet sites are also often referred to as sources of negative information (40%), in addition to comments from the child’s provider (35%), nurses or medical staff (32%), or books and magazines (32%).

However, parents who intended to vaccinate their child had four times as many positive sources, the most common ones including comments from their child’s provider (67%), nurses and healthcare professionals (59%), comments from family or close friends 47%), other parents (42%) and parenting books and magazines (34%). About 33% of the parents reported that they had seen suggestions for influenza vaccination on the internet.

“It is important to admit that for some parents, childcare professionals are not the only influence, or even the primary influence, on the decision on influenza vaccine,” said Clark. “For these families, we need to explore other mechanisms to convey accurate information and let the parents hear a more balanced view.”

CDC: Influenza (flu). Access on November 20, 2018.

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