Many public health experts have warned that it’s especially important to get a flu shot this year because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, even if you don’t usually get on.
But a new poll suggests many parents aren’t getting that message. One in three said they plan to skip the flu shot for their children.
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“When we add influenza to COVID-19, now we’re really putting a strain on our health care system, so we want to minimize the influenza part of that as much as we can,” said Sarah Clark, co-director of the C.S. Mott Children’s National Poll on Children’s Health.
The survey found only two-thirds of parents plan to get their children vaccinated for the flu.
“One of the biggest reasons we hear every year why parents say they don’t need to get a flu vaccine for their kid is, ‘My child is healthy and the flu is not that serious,'” Clark said. “But that’s not true. Almost every year in Michigan we have one or more kids die, and we have a number of kids hospitalized with very severe complications from influenza.”
Getting a flu shot reduces those risks, even if a child does get sick.
“Among the parents who said in our poll that they were not likely to have their kid get the flu vaccine, 14% said they were afraid to bring their child to the office because of a fear of COVID-19,” Clark said.
She urges those parents to find out what safety precautions their pediatricians are taking. She said even if children haven’t returned to school. the flu shot is important.
“Flu vaccine isn’t just for today or the month of September,” Clark said. “It’s going to carry us through the rest of the fall and the winter.”
The poll also found only 44% of parents remember hearing about the importance of flu shots this year from their child’s pediatrician. Researchers hope doctors will make a point of reaching out to parents to communicate the message loud and clear.