Study: Parental Concerns Influence Flu Vaccine Uptake in Children

MARCH 13, 2017
Jennifer Barrett, Assistant Editor

Despite evidence that vaccinations are a safe and essential means for protecting individuals from influenza, concerns about adverse events hinder flu vaccine uptake, primarily in children. A recent study investigated parental attitudes toward their child receiving a flu vaccine and its negative influence on vaccination rates.
The study, led by King’s College London and published in Vaccine, determined that poor flu vaccine uptake was most commonly associated with concerns about safety, short-term adverse events, and long-term health problems.
The researchers conducted a survey of 1001 parents or guardians of at least 1 child aged 2 to 7 years old in England. Fifty-three percent of parents reported that their child had received a flu vaccination for the 2015 to 2016 flu season. Uptake rates in 2-4 year olds ranged between 30-40%, and 53-54% in 5-7 year olds. Thirty-eight percent of parents reported that they did not know enough about the vaccine. More than 70% of parents had high intentions to vaccinate their child during the 2016-2017 flu season.
Stronger uptake was observed in children who had previously been vaccinated, had parents who supported its effectiveness, and parents who suspected their child was susceptible to flu. However, children who experienced an adverse event related to vaccination the previous year were less likely to be vaccinated again.
The researchers concluded that more public health messages should promote the positive effects of flu vaccination, including its importance in preventing flu and the serious health complications associated with the illness itself.
Smith L, et al. Psychological factors associated with uptake of the childhood influenza vaccine and perception of post-vaccination side-effects: A cross-sectional survey in England. Vaccine. 2017;