Among parents who do not plan to get their children vaccinated against H1N1 flu, 46% indicate they are not worried about their children getting H1N1 flu, while one-in-five believe H1N1 flu is not serious, according to the latest C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health.
“This information about parents’ plans to vaccinate their kids against H1N1 flu suggests that parents are much less concerned about H1N1 flu than seasonal flu for their kids. That perception may not match the actual risks,” says Matthew Davis, M.D., director of the poll and associate professor of pediatrics and internal medicine in the Child Health Evaluation and Research Unit at the University of Michigan Medical School.
Race, Ethnic Differences
The poll also shows vaccination plans for H1N1 flu differs by racial/ethnic groups. More than half of Hispanic parents plan to have their children vaccinated against H1N1 flu, compared to only 38% of white parents and 30% of black parents. Vaccination plans of Hispanic parents may reflect a higher perceived risk in the Hispanic community, given the well publicized outbreak of H1N1 flu in Mexico in early 2009, Davis says.
In describing their perceived risk of H1N1 flu for children, one-third of parents indicate they believe H1N1 flu will be worse than seasonal flu. Nearly half of parents believe H1N1 and seasonal flu will be about the same for children, according to the poll.
Among parents who do not plan to get their children vaccinated against H1N1 flu, or who are unsure, about half are worried about possible side effects of the vaccine. Among other considerations:
- 25% say the H1N1 vaccine won’t be required or recommended for school/day care.
- 23% say they are worried the vaccine will be too expensive.
On the Other Hand…
In contrast, parents who say they plan to have their children get the H1N1 vaccine give these reasons:
- 83% believe that the H1N1 flu is a serious disease.
- 75% say the H1N1 vaccine is recommended for children.
- 62% say the H1N1 vaccine will likely be required for school/day care.
However, 55% say they are worried that medications will not be available or effective, and more than half say the H1N1 vaccine is likely to be inexpensive.
“This connection between perceived risk and plans to vaccinate against H1N1 flu makes a lot of sense,” says 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 health care community needs to focus on communicating key information about the risk of H1N1 flu for children.”
The poll surveyed 1,678 parents from Aug. 13 – 31, 2009 across the U.S. about their plans and perceptions related to getting their children vaccinated against H1N1 flu and seasonal flu.
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