Healthy Tip Tuesday – More Parents Are Hesitant About the Influenza Vaccine Than Routine Immunizations for Children

(Dennison, Ohio) – A recent study by the American Academy of Pediatrics indicates parents are hesitant about their children receiving the influenza vaccine.

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The study in the publication, Pediatrics, found 6.1% of parents were hesitant about routine childhood vaccinations and nearly 26% were hesitant about the influenza vaccine. The study, “Parental Hesitancy about Routine Childhood and Influenza Vaccinations: A National Survey” (published online June 15) analyzed survey responses from 2,176 parents of children between 6 months and 18 years.

Authors defined vaccine hesitancy as a motivational state of being conflicted about or opposed to getting vaccinated without reference to whether it leads to refusal or deferral of vaccination.  More participants strongly agreed that routine vaccines were effective (70%) when compared with influenza (26%).

While hesitancy about routine childhood vaccination is driven primarily by safety concerns, hesitancy about influenza vaccination is largely driven by concerns about low vaccine effectiveness, the authors found. Concerns about the safety of routine childhood and influenza vaccinations were almost identical. Race and ethnicity were not significantly associated with hesitancy about childhood vaccines, but Hispanic parents were less hesitant about influenza vaccines than white, non-Hispanic parents. Having more children in the household and being an unmarried respondent were also associated with hesitancy about influenza vaccines.

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The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that healthy children between ages 6 months to 18 years receive a yearly influenza vaccination, yet the U.S. children’s influenza vaccination rate in the 2018-19 season was only 57.9%, the authors note.

The authors suggest that pediatricians stress the safety and effectiveness of influenza vaccines with parents even in years where the match with the circulating strain isn’t as good because it decreases the severity of the influenza disease and hospitalizations rates.

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