Fighting the flu - and flu vaccine misperceptions

Each year, dozens of US children die from influenza-related illness. With flu season fast approaching, it's time to think about vaccination. The CDC recommends an annual flu vaccine for all individuals 6 months and older, yet the rate of flu vaccination for children is consistently lower than rates for other childhood vaccines.

In a 2016 NPCH Report, we asked parents about their opinions of flu vaccine compared to other childhood vaccines. One-third of parents said flu vaccine is less important for their child than other vaccines. Negative beliefs about flu vaccine safety and efficacy were more prevalent among parents of children who do not get flu vaccine. One-third of parents of non-vaccinated children said the doctor recommended flu vaccine less strongly than other vaccines.

Parent opinions on flu vaccine compared to other childhood vaccines.

View full size image | View more children's health infographics

In one respect, the parental attitudes were correct: last year, the nasal spray flu vaccine was found to be only 3% effective - much lower than parents expect from childhood vaccines. As a result, the CDC has stated the nasal spray should NOT be used for the 2016-2017 flu season. However, flu shots are effective against influenza, and the CDC recommends that children receive a flu shot to protect them against this serious disease.