“Echo Chamber” of Negative Sources Influence Parents Opting Out of Flu Vaccine for Children

Although the annual flu vaccine is recommended for all children older than 6 months, about a third of parents say their child won’t receive one this year, according to a new U.S. poll.

Parents seem to make decisions in an “echo chamber” of information that reinforces their beliefs about flu vaccines, reporting seven times more sources that were negative about the vaccine and made them question whether to get it for their child. These typically included family, friends, other parents and websites.

More than 180 children in the U.S. died from influenza complications last year. And last flu season, less than 60 percent of U.S. kids received a flu vaccine, the poll report notes.

The C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health (NPCH) is designed to measure current national public opinion, perceptions and priorities regarding major health care issues and trends for U.S. children and people in their communities. The NPCH, launched in 2007, is funded by the Department of Communications at the University of Michigan (U-M) Health System, and is located within the U-M Division of General Pediatrics Child Health Evaluation and Research (CHEAR) Unit.

“Child health providers are a critical source of information to explain the rationale for annual flu vaccination and to address parents’ questions about flu vaccine safety and effectiveness,” says poll co-director Sarah Clark. “Without clear guidance from the provider, parents may be left with misinformation, such as the suggestion that flu vaccine causes the flu.”

Read more at Reuters

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