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Children's health poll: one out of three parents say no flu shots for their kids despite COVID-19

Rhoda Baer
Public Domain

One in three parents do not plan to have their children vaccinated for the seasonal flu this year despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

And only one third of parents believe that it's more important for their children to get a flu shot this year than in previous years.

That's according to the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children's Health at Michigan Medicine. 

The findings and accompanying report, based on responses in August from almost 2000 parents of at least one child age 2-18, came amid the re-opening plans of some K-12 schools and concerns about a second wave of COVID. 

"Public health officials are emphasizing the importance of people of all ages, including kids, to get flu vaccines this year," said Sarah Clark, co-director of the Mott Poll. 

"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," Clark said.

"The important thing this year is to make sure that kids get a flu vaccine even when the family hasn't already established a pattern or a habit of making sure kids get one every year," said Clark.

The poll also shows that some parents do not want to bring their children to a health care setting out of fear of exposure to the coronavirus.

"Most child care providers have made changes to their office environment to keep children safe during office visits and vaccinations," said Clark. "Parents who are concerned about COVID exposure should contact their child's provider to learn what types of precautions have been put in place."

The poll found the most common reasons for parents to skip the flu vaccine for their children include concerns about side effects and effectiveness.

"There is a lot of misinformation about the flu vaccine," said Clark. "But it is the best defense for children against serious health consequences of influenza and the risk of spreading it to others."

Virginia Gordan has been a part-time reporter at Michigan Radio since fall 2013. She has a general beat covering news topics from across the state.
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