Many American parents who don’t get their children flu shots say they don’t see the need, according to a new study.
“The first and most common reason could encompass a belief that risk for contracting influenza is low in their family as well as that the vaccine offers little protection,” said study lead author Dr. Scott Field of the University of Alabama School of Medicine.
It’s possible that people who haven’t had the flu themselves underestimate its potential severity, he suggested.
For the study, during the 2012-2013 flu season, researchers questioned 131 parents of children ages 9 months to 18 years old. They asked about the children’s history of flu and flu vaccination, reasons for not having their children vaccinated, and if they planned to have their children vaccinated for the next flu season.
The three most common reasons parents gave for not getting their children flu shots were: believing such vaccination was not needed, fear of possible side effects, and forgetting or not getting around to it.
The study results were published in the October issue of the American Journal of Infection Control.
Flu causes more hospitalizations and deaths among American children than any other vaccine-preventable disease, the researchers said in background notes.
Each year, more than 200,000 people in the United States are hospitalized for respiratory and heart problems associated with seasonal flu. It also causes 3,000 to 49,000 deaths annually, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC recommends everyone 6 months and older get a flu shot each year.
Some people may be skeptical about the need for flu vaccination because they haven’t been exposed to influenza, the study authors suggested.
“A reason rarely discussed in the medical literature relating to why many parents do not think influenza vaccines are needed is the infrequency with which many individuals and families experience influenza first hand,” Field said in a journal news release.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about seasonal flu vaccination.