According to a new survey conducted online by The Harris Poll, commissioned by CareDox and Families Fighting Flu, most Americans (85 percent) understand that otherwise healthy children can die from the flu, yet nearly half of parents of kids under 18 (50 percent) have still not had their children vaccinated and 17 percent of parents don’t plan to get their children vaccinated this flu season.
According to the CDC, last year was the worst flu season on record, with an estimated 79,000 deaths, including 185 children. This year’s flu season is already underway, and there have already been two reported pediatric flu deaths.
“Both the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that everyone six months of age and older get an annual flu vaccination as soon as vaccines are available in their community, preferably by the end of October,” said Flor Muñoz, M.D, Associate Professor of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Baylor College of Medicine and medical advisor to Families Fighting Flu. “Year after year, thousands of otherwise healthy children are hospitalized, and hundreds die from flu-related complications. Flu vaccination has been shown to reduce the risk of flu-related death in otherwise healthy children by 65 percent.”
In late October, on behalf of CareDox and Families Fighting Flu, The Harris Poll surveyed more than 2,000 adults from across the U.S., including 660 parents of children under 18. The survey sought to better understand attitudes towards flu vaccines and glean insight into why some parents still don’t vaccinate, despite the documented dangers of not doing so. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), flu vaccination rate among children ages 6 months through 17 years old have remained stagnant around 59 percent for the past several years, declining by more than a percentage point just last flu season. Further, flu vaccination rates for young, school-age children have been declining. Last year, approximately 80 percent of the 185 children that died had not been vaccinated.
CareDox and Families Fighting Flu wanted to better understand why parents are not vaccinating their children. Survey results reveal that there is a large gap between what parents believe about the flu, and the actions they take (or don’t take) to protect their children from this potentially deadly disease.
Top reasons for not vaccinating according to survey participants include:
- 55 percent believe the flu vaccine doesn’t work
- 52 percent believe the flu vaccine isn’t safe
- 32 percent believe they can get the flu from the vaccine
“Parents may believe that children, even healthy children, dying from flu is a rare occurrence,” said Serese Marotta, chief operating officer of Families Fighting Flu. “But the members of our organization, including myself, can tell you that flu hospitalizations and deaths occur much more frequently than we’d like to think. And we want parents to know that annual flu vaccination is the best defense we have against influenza.”
The survey results also showed that 54 percent of parents wish it was easier to get their children vaccinated for the flu, and 66 percent of parents said it’s much more likely that they’d get their child vaccinated if they could get it at school.
Families Fighting Flu
Through their unique partnership, Families Fighting Flu provides flu facts as well as stories of families that have been adversely impacted by this disease to raise awareness about the dangers of flu while CareDox makes it easy for parents to locate and sign up for no-cost school-located vaccine clinics in their area through their website www.schoolflushot.com.
Since 2013, CareDox has provided wellness services and health records management technology to more than 7100 school districts across the country, and more than 600,000 flu shots to children in conjunction with state and county health departments and school districts. By the end of the upcoming flu season, CareDox expects that total to exceed 1 million vaccinations. For those students who do not have insurance (private or public), CareDox absorbs those costs. Offering flu shots at no cost to the parent or school is a critical part of improving pediatric health and protecting children and the community from potentially lethal outbreaks of flu.
For more information, school officials may contact CareDox via its 24-hour call center at 1-800-566-0596.