Should your child get the flu shot this year? Nearly 26 percent of parents express hesitancy in national survey

Nearly 26 percent of parents are hesitant over getting their child a vaccine that medical experts routinely recommend each fall: the flu shot.

In a national survey of 2,176 parents with children six months to 18 years old, 25.8 percent of them said they were hesitant about having their child receive the flu shot, while about 6 percent said they were hesitant about their child receiving routine childhood vaccines, such as for the measles.

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With regards to the flu shot, the survey found that parents’ hesitancy was linked more to concerns about its effectiveness rather than safety reasons. In fact, 70 percent of participants agreed that routine childhood vaccines are effective, while only 26 percent said the same about flu vaccines, according to the result published in the journal Pediatrics.

Given the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, officials stress that getting a flu vaccine is even more important this year.

Given the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, officials stress that getting a flu vaccine is even more important this year. (iStock)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends everyone six months of age or older receive the flu shot each year. This is particularly important for those considered at high-risk for developing flu-related complications, namely people 65 years and older, those with chronic medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, or heart disease, pregnant women, and children younger than 5 years, “but especially those younger than 2 years old,” federal officials note.

But given the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, officials stress that getting a flu vaccine is even more important this year.

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Indeed, the CDC estimates that the flu shot reduces the risk of flu illness by between 40 percent and 60 percent, and preventing flu illnesses means there will be less of a burden on healthcare systems that may be grappling with the expected second wave of the coronavirus that experts have said will likely coincide with flu season.

“We are going to try to encourage people, urge them, implore them even, to come out and roll up their sleeves and get vaccinated so we can mitigate the impact of this season of viral attack,” William Schaffner, medical director for the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, recently said of the flu vaccine.