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A new survey of parents of 8- to 17-year-olds shows that vaccination ranks next to last among things they believe they can do to help protect against the influenza virus. Although public health guidelines state that getting an annual flu vaccination is the single best way to prevent the flu, the survey showed that parents ranked it nearly equally (56 percent) with practices such as taking vitamins (58 percent) and dressing appropriately for the weather (55 percent). Despite 82 percent of the parents being aware they can vaccinate their child against the flu, less than half of parents (44 percent) say their child has ever received an influenza vaccine.(1) Furthermore, only about half (48 percent) say they were extremely or very likely to have their child vaccinated next flu season even after learning about expanded public health guidelines recommending that all children six months to 18 years of age receive an annual flu vaccine.(1,2)
In the survey of 952 parents, for those with children not previously vaccinated against the flu, about 3 in 10 (32 percent) believe that their child does not need to be vaccinated against the flu.(1) Additionally, in a parallel survey of 875 school-age children (eight-to-17 years of age), only 40 percent of children say that it is either extremely or very important for them to receive an annual flu vaccine.(1) Around half (47 percent) of children also say that it is extremely or very important that their parents receive an annual flu vaccine.(1)
"Along with all the things that parents know are important for helping keep their kids healthy –like washing hands and getting enough sleep – flu vaccination should be right up there, but this survey shows us that we still have a lot of educating to do," said Anne Moscona, MD, professor of pediatrics and of microbiology and immunology, and vice chair of pediatrics for research at Weill Medical College of Cornell University. "As a community, we need to do a better job spreading the word about how important a yearly flu vaccine can be in helping protect kids – and ourselves – from influenza."
Federal Flu Vaccine Guidelines Expanded to Reach More Children
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that getting an annual flu vaccine is the single best way to prevent the flu.(3) In February, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) expanded their annual influenza vaccination recommendations to include all children six months to 18 years of age.(2)
According to the CDC, each year, up to 60 million Americans get the flu. Resulting complications cause more than 200,000 hospitalizations and about 36,000 deaths in the United States each year.(3)
New Campaign Launches to Educate Americans About Flu Vaccine Options
“Flu Vaccination: Choose Your Administration” is an election-themed campaign that aims to empower and encourage Americans to make informed decisions about flu vaccination. As part of the campaign, sponsored by MedImmune, visitors to http://www.FluVote.com can learn more about two of the most important health choices they can make this election/flu season: electing to get a flu vaccination and learning more about flu vaccine options.
Overall, about two out of three parents (67 percent) surveyed say they wish their child could get a flu vaccine without having to get a shot, and about three out of four school-age children (77 percent) say the same for themselves.(1) Of those parents who have previously had their child vaccinated against the flu, nearly 4 out of 5 (78 percent) say they would be extremely or very willing to try a needle-free flu vaccine for their child if their doctor said it was OK.(1)
A large majority of parents of 8-to 17-year-olds (80 percent) are reliant on doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals for information about flu vaccines, according to the survey.(1) In fact, two-thirds (66 percent) indicate that a healthcare provider’s recommendation impacts their decision a great deal or quite a bit when determining whether or not to have their child vaccinated against the flu.(1) Among parents who have ever had their child vaccinated, half (53 percent) say that their child received the flu vaccine because their child’s healthcare provider recommended it.(1)
These surveys were conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of MedImmune between June 4 and June 19, 2008 among 952 U.S. residents ages 24 and older with an 8-17 year old in the household for whom they are the parent or guardian and among 875 U.S. children and adolescents 8-17 years old. No estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated; a full methodology is available.
MedImmune is wholly owned by AstraZeneca plc and is the worldwide biologics business for the AstraZeneca Group.
1. MedImmune. Parent-Child Influenza Survey. Harris Interactive Inc. June 2008.
2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). MMWR. 2008;57(Early Release):1-60. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr57e717a1.htm. Accessed August 11, 2008.
3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Key Facts about Influenza and the Influenza Vaccine. Available at http://www.cdc.gov/flu/keyfacts.htm. Accessed August 11, 2008.
4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Questions & Answers: Cold Versus Flu. Available at http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/qa/coldflu.htm. Accessed August 11, 2008.