A new survey by C.S. Mott Children's Hospital suggests parents who decline flu vaccinations for their child are getting information from unreliable sources. Nearly a third of parents polled were not planning to have their children vaccinated for the flu.
That's in spite of more than 180 child deaths nationally in the last flu season. The poll found that parents who chose not to vaccinate were more likely to get their information from family, friends, and the Internet, and that information came from a large number of sources.
Sarah Clark is the co-director of the poll. She says it's important for doctors to address potential bad information that parents may have received.
"You have to be clear and specific about flu vaccine," says Clark. One in five parents reported that their provider did not make any recommendations about flu vaccine.
Four in 10 parents surveyed said they base their decisions about the flu vaccine on what they read and hear, and those parents are less likely to have their child vaccinated. Parents who opted out reported seven times as many sources opposing the vaccine as supporting it. This large volume of negative information reinforced their decision and made it less likely they would change their minds.
Parents who opted for the flu vaccine for their child were more likely to have been influenced by a recommendation from a health care provider.
One in five parents surveyed said their provider did not give a recommendation for the flu vaccine.
Clark recommends that parents should seek better information.
"They need to make sure that included in what they read or hear is some conversation with that health care provider so they really are making a solid, informed choice," she says.