US parents underestimate importance of swine flu vaccination
MedWire News: Less than half of US parents plan to get their children vaccinated against the H1N1 (swine flu) virus, say researchers who suggest that many parents may be underestimating the risks.
The vaccine against H1N1 influenza is expected to become available in October this year, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention strongly recommend that children undergo vaccination.
To investigate how many parents plan to get their children vaccinated against H1N1 infection, Matthew Davis and colleagues from the University of Michigan Health System in Ann Arbor, USA, surveyed a nationally-representative sample of 1678 parents across the country.
Results of the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health revealed that just 40% of parents plan to get their children vaccinated against H1N1 flu, although 54% indicated that they will get their children vaccinated against seasonal flu.
Among parents who do not plan to get their children vaccinated against the H1N1 virus, 46% indicated they are not worried about their children getting H1N1 flu, and 20% believe H1N1 flu is not serious. Furthermore, half of these parents were worried about possible side effects of the vaccine.
The poll also revealed that parental plans to vaccinate children against H1N1 flu differed by racial/ethnic groups, with more than half of Hispanic parents planning to have their children vaccinated, compared with only 38% of White parents, and 30% of Black parents. This difference may reflect a higher perceived risk in the Hispanic community, due to the outbreak of H1N1 flu in Mexico in early 2009, says the team.
Among parents who said that they were planning to get their children vaccinated against H1N1 flu, around 80% believed that H1N1 flu is a serious threat and worried about their children becoming infected.
“This connection between perceived risk and plans to vaccinate against H1N1 flu makes a lot of sense,” said Davis.
“What it emphasizes is that to reach parents who are currently unsure about H1N1 vaccination and convince them to go ahead and vaccinate their kids, the healthcare community needs to focus on communicating key information about the risk of H1N1 flu for children,” he concluded.
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By Mark Cowen