NEW YORK — Health experts have been emphasizing the importance of getting the flu vaccine this year during the COVID-19 pandemic. Doctors say it’s critical to get vaccinated because the flu and the coronavirus have similar symptoms, and a surge in flu cases could overwhelm the health system.
But a new poll from the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health finds 32% of parents say their child is unlikely to get the vaccine and only 34% believe it’s more important this year. Most common concerns include side effects and that the vaccine is not effective.
“One other thing that we heard that was unusual for this year was they’re afraid to bring the kid into a provider’s office because they don’t want to expose the kid to COVID,” says Sarah Clark, co-director of the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health.
Clark says parents need to get the message.
“One of the benefits of flu vaccine is that it lessens the severity. In cases where the individual does, in fact, get influenza, vaccinated people are much less likely to have serious complications and hospitalizations,” she says.
Thousands of children are hospitalized every year because of the flu and some die. Children under five years old are at high risk for serious complications.
The Bower family gets flu shots every year, but they’re making it even more of a priority now because of the pandemic.
“We wanted to make sure that we really made every effort to protect ourselves, at least from the flu,” says mom Lisa Bower.
Bower says her family is taking many precautions during this unprecedented time.
“Best thing for my children is having them wear masks when they’re outside, they’re following the right hand washing recommendations, we’re socially distancing,” she says.
Bower hopes it will keep her family and others safe and healthy.
The CDC recommends everyone six months and older get the flu vaccine. The agency says it’s best to be vaccinated by the end of October.
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