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.
Poll questions coming soon.
In the meantime, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org
ABC – The World Today
- RCH Kids Health Info – Influenza factsheet
- Raising Children Network – Influenza
- Australian Government Department of Health – Immunise Australia Program: Influenza
- Raising Children Network – Immunisation FAQ’s
- Better Health – Facts and misconceptions
- Melbourne Vaccine Education Centre
- Raising Children Network – Immunisation in childhood