Study Says 1 in 3 Parents Won’t Get Flu Shots for Their Kids During COVID-19

“It’s alarming because especially this year we need to eliminate all chances of illness, as we prepare for flu season during the pandemic.”
ByNehal Aggarwal
Associate Editor
Published
Sep 2020
illustrated woman taking her temperature
Photo: RawPixel

According to a new study, one in three parents won’t be getting the flu shot for their kids during the covid-19 pandemic.

The C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health, conducted in August 2020, surveyed a national sample of parents about getting the flu shot for their kids, ranging from 2 to 18 years old. They found that two-third of parents do plan to vaccinate their children against the flu, with 49 percent saying “very likely” and 19 percent saying “likely”—and the younger the child the higher the intention of getting the flu shot. For parents of kids aged 2 to 4, 73 percent were likely to get the shot, while the number decreased to 70 percent for parents of kids aged 5 to 12 and 65 percent of kids aged 13 to 18.

“This report it’s surprising. It’s alarming because especially this year we need to eliminate all chances of illness, as we prepare for flu season during the pandemic,” Dr. Jake Deutsch, clinical director and founder of Cure Urgent Care tells The Bump. “It should be every parent’s priority to make sure their children avoid any illness.”

For parents in the survey who got their children vaccinated last year, 96 percent plan to do so again. Meanwhile, among parents who did not get their kids vaccinated last year, only 28 percent say they’re likely to vaccinate their children this year. Plus, only 34 percent of the parents surveyed said they believe getting the flu vaccine is more important this year than previous year. Meanwhile, 8 percent said it’s less important and 58 percent said the importance is about the same.

Of the respondents, one third said they don’t recall their healthcare provider recommending the flu shot. Of these parents, only 40 percent plan to vaccinate their kids against the flu this year. Among the 32 percent of parents who said it was unlikely they would get their kids vaccinated, common reasons include side effects from the flu vaccine (42 percent), belief that the vaccine isn’t necessary (40 percent) or effective (32 percent) and they would to keep their child away from healthcare centers because of COVID-10 (14 percent).

“We are seeing a lot of parents avoiding taking their children out, even to the doctors to avoid interaction during COVID-19, but we know wearing masks reduces exposure, so it’s important for parents to bring their children to get the flu shot,” Dr. Deutsch says. “If your child is exposed at school or daycare, and they’re not vaccinated, your child…will be at risk of getting the flu. [This could be] confused with COVID as we’re headed into a ‘twindemic’ as some are calling it….“[There are] risks for complications from the flu too. People do die from it, so it’s concerning that people aren’t taking this seriously.”

Public health experts have been emphasizing the importance of the flu shot this year, more than others, for months. Not only do they say the vaccine can help keep the numbers of flu-related hospitalizations and doctors visits down, but they also think it might help reduce the needs of diagnostic tests to distinguish between the flu and COVID-19.

With all the misinformation out there, it can be confusing to know what information to trust—especially during the outbreak of a novel virus. However, if you’re on the fence of getting your kids vaccinated against the flu, call your pediatrician and ask them all of your questions. Not only will it likely help give you peace of mind, but it may help provide your child with some added protection as we head into flu season.

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