The Reason Why 1/3 of Parents Aren't Getting Their Kids the Flu Shot This Year Is Seriously Disturbing

Flu shot
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A new poll is trying to get to the bottom of why some parents get their kids a flu vaccine and others skip the shot -- and the results might just surprise you. According to C.S. Mott Children's Hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan, more than one-third of all parents have decided not to get their kids vaccinated beause of an "echo chamber" of misinformation. And the poll also found that many parents said that they base their decision on whether or not to get the shot on what they read and hear vs. the recommendation of their child's healthcare provider.

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According to the results of the poll, which were published on November 19, parents who are not planning to get their kids a flu shot for the 2018-2019 winter season made their decision based on a limited range of information. 

Annual flu vaccination is recommended for all children 6 months or older, although the rates of flu vaccines for kids are often lower than other childhood vaccines. Even though two-thirds of parents said that they would get their kids vaccinated, a whopping 34 percent said they had no plan to do so. 

In the study, which was published on C.S. Mott Children's Hospital website, researchers interviewed more than 1,977 parents with kids 1 to 18 years old, and 38 percent said that they would make their own decisions based on what they read or hear. But oftentimes, these are not the recommendations of medical professionals. 

“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,” explained 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.”

Parents who reported that they would not base their decision on what their doctors said explained that oftentimes, their friends and family made them question the vaccine or convinced them not to get the vaccine at all. 

These same parents also reported that they often had more than seven times the sources who made them question or not want the vaccine. They explained that the sheer number of negative information they've seen made them less likely willing to change their mind about getting the shot.

"There appears to be an echo chamber around flu vaccine,” Clark continued. “Parents who are not choosing flu vaccination for their child report hearing or reading opinions that question or oppose the vaccine. At the same time, parents who decided their child will get flu vaccine report opinions that largely support vaccination.” 

Clark explained there could be several reasons for this "echo chamber" effect, including parents seeking out sources that align with the beliefs that they already have about flu vaccines and that these parents might "selectively remember" the sources that confirmed their beliefs.

“It’s important to acknowledge that for some parents, child health providers are not the sole influence, or even the primary influence, on decisions about the flu vaccine,” said Clark. “For these families, we need to explore other mechanisms to convey accurate information and allow parents to hear a more balanced viewpoint.”

Last flu season a record number of kids died from influenza. More than 180 passed away and fewer than 60 percent of those kids had received the flu vaccine.

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