The US is weeks away from the start of flu season, marking the ideal time, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for your family to get a flu shot. But according to a new survey from the University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, as many as one-third of parents don’t plan to have their kids vaccinated.
The findings — conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs — came from a randomly selected, nationally representative sample of nearly 2,000 parents with children ages 18 and under. The parents were asked not only whether they planned to vaccinate but how the current COVID-19 pandemic may (or may not) play into their decision. Two-thirds of those polled said they planned to get their kids a flu vaccine, with 49 percent declaring it “very likely” that they would get one and 19 percent “likely.”
But another third said they are “unlikely” to get their child a flu vaccine this year, citing concerns about side effects, the belief that it’s unnecessary and a desire to keep their kids “away from health care sites due to COVID-19.” Dr. L.J. Tan, chief strategy officer at the Immunization Action Coalition, a nonprofit dedicated to vaccine education, said the first one is a very common reason for avoiding the flu vaccine.
“The big myth is that the flu vaccine gives you the flu, but that’s simply not true,” says Tan. “The vaccine is made up of inactivated parts of this virus, so it’s not capable of replicating.” The flu vaccine can take up to 14 days to take effect, which is sometimes the cause of the confusion, but it cannot cause the virus. He describes the flu shot as an “incredible safe vaccine” one in which side effects are rare. The CDC lists common side effects as “soreness from the shot, headache, fever, nausea or muscle aches.”
For the latter group, those avoiding the flu shot in order to stay away from health care centers, Tan deems it a “mistake.” “I think if parents go in and look at their health care systems, they’re going to see extraordinary measures to protect their children — sanitizing, social distancing, disease screening,” says Tan. “So I think it’s a faulty risk-benefit analysis … if anything, you do not want to get influenza with this fall season.”
While the number of those affected varies every flu season, the CDC says millions of kids develop influenza each year, leading to thousands of hospitalizations and, in some cases, death. (Source: Yahoo Life)