The latest findings from the Australian Child Health Poll show that parents’ misconceptions are influencing flu vaccine uptake.
Less than a third of Australian parents are planning to have their child vaccinated against the flu this winter, new research has found.
Although influenza or ‘the flu’ is the leading cause of hospitalisation due to a vaccine-preventable disease in Australian children under five years, the latest poll has found that more than a quarter of parents incorrectly believe that healthy kids don’t get seriously unwell from the flu and one in six think that the flu is not a serious disease. Parents who hold these misbeliefs are considerably less likely to be planning to vaccinate their children against the flu this winter.
New research has found that less than a third of Australian parents are planning to vaccinate their child vaccinated against the flu this winter.
The latest findings from the Child Health Poll show that parents’ misconceptions about the safety, side effects and effectiveness of the flu vaccine are influencing their decision to vaccinate their children this winter.
Director of the Australian Child Health Poll, paediatrician Dr Anthea Rhodes, said that each year in Australia thousands of children become unwell with the flu and more than 1,500 children are hospitalised with flu-related complications. The flu vaccine is recommended for all children over six months of age.
“Children, including healthy children, are more likely to catch the flu than adults (20-30 per cent of children compared to 10-30 per cent of adults) and healthy children under five are the group most likely to be hospitalised for neurological or respiratory complications related to flu,” Dr Rhodes said.
“Around half of all children who become seriously unwell and die from the flu are previously healthy children, with no underlying medical conditions”.
The poll found that:
- Almost nine in ten (88 per cent) parents are unsure about the safety of the flu vaccine
- One in six (18 per cent) parents incorrectly believe that the flu is not a serious disease
- Over a quarter (28 per cent) incorrectly believe that healthy kids don’t get seriously unwell from the flu
- Nearly one in ten (eight per cent) parents incorrectly believe that children can get the flu from the flu vaccine, and a quarter (27 per cent) are unsure about this
- Ten per cent of parents believe the flu vaccine does not work well to protect children from the flu and almost half (46 per cent) are unsure about this
Dr Rhodes said the poll also identified cost as a potential barrier for parents in giving their child the flu vaccine, with around one in five parents saying they could not afford the flu vaccine for their children.