- In a new survey of 1,977 US parents, one third say their kids won’t be getting a flu shot this year.
- The flu can be deadly – it killed 180 kids in the US last year.
- The flu shot doesn’t cause the flu.
- Getting the shot also helps protect others around you.
A new survey finds that plenty of parents are not planning to vaccinate their kids against the flu this winter, CNN reported Monday.
In a poll of 1,977 US parents conducted by C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, one-third of respondents said they’d be skipping the flu shot for their child.
The survey didn’t investigate specific reasons why parents chose to vaccinate their kids or not, but it did ask what sources of information parents consider when making the decision. In the sample, 48% of parents said they tend to follow the advice of their child’s doctor, while 38% said they decide based on what they read or hear.
“Nearly four in 10 parents decided about flu vaccine for their child based on what they read and hear,” the survey report said. “Parents who take this approach may encounter a range of information sources. Some of those sources may offer accurate information, while others offer misinformation, such as suggesting that flu vaccine causes the flu, that influenza is not a serious disease, or that healthy children do not suffer serious consequences from influenza.”
But the flu can have serious consequences for kids.
“Some people may not realize how serious flu can be,” Mott Children’s Hospital pediatrician Jennifer McDonald said in a statement about the poll results. “I point out to parents that thousands of kids are hospitalized every year with the flu.”
Despite an enduring myth, the flu shot won’t actually make kids sick
In the statement, McDonald explained that the vaccine is “made with components of inactivated influenza or a weakened virus.”
“It absolutely cannot cause the flu,” she added.
It is possible to get sick shortly after you get the vaccine, but not because of the shot. That’s because after getting the shot it takes the body about two weeks to build up antibodies to fight the flu, doctors say. A vaccinated person could contract the flu during that time period.
It’s also possible that you’ll encounter a different type of virus, like ones that cause the common cold, right after getting the flu shot.
“We’re giving [the shot] in the fall – that’s when people start to get colds and acute bronchitis and things of that sort,” Dr. Malcolm Thaler, of New York City’s One Medical, previously told INSIDER. “People like to make associations between fall illnesses and getting the flu shot and it’s just incorrect.”
It is worth noting that some people do have mild reactions to the flu shot, including low-grade fever, headache, and muscle aches, the to CDC says. But those reactions don’t mean the flu shot made you sick.
The flu shot helps protect others
Getting the shot helps protect others by contributing to what’s known as herd immunity. When more people in a population are vaccinated against a disease, that disease can’t spread as easily and the entire population becomes less likely to get it. This helps protect those who can’t get certain vaccinations. (The CDC says that babies younger than six months and people who are allergic to flu shot ingredients, for example, shouldn’t get them.)
Last year, less than 60% of US kids received the flu shot, according to the survey, despite longstanding CDC recommendations that everyone six months and older get vaccinated.
Not sure where to get a flu shot? Use this tool from the CDC to find a location in your zip code.
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