As the flu season approaches, doctors are urging parents to get their flu shots and ensure that their children get vaccinated as well. The American Academy of Pediatrics said that getting vaccinated against the flu is "more important than ever" this year because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
"As a pediatrician, I am very concerned about the health of children and their families this fall if these two potentially deadly viruses are circulating in the community at the same time," said Flor Munoz, MD, FAAP, lead author of the recommendations, developed by the AAP Committee on Infectious Diseases. "Children play a pivotal role in the transmission of influenza to others in their household. They can also get seriously ill from influenza without a vaccination."
Despite the advice, the National Poll on Children's Health found that one-third of parents don't intend to take their kids to get a flu shot. Forty-two percent of those parents cited concerns about side effects from the flu vaccine, while 40% believe it is unnecessary, and 32% do not believe the vaccine is effective.
That concerns public health experts because our healthcare system could find itself overrun treating patients with the flu and COVID-19.
"We may see peaks of flu and COVID-19 at the same time, which could overwhelm the healthcare system, strain testing capacity and potentially reduce our ability to catch and treat both respiratory illnesses effectively," said Sarah Clark, associate director of the poll done which was conducted by the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital, Michigan Medicine.
The study also found that many pediatricians are not personally recommending flu shots for children. Only 44% of parents said their child's regular health care provider strongly recommended the vaccine this year.
Parents do listen to the advice of their pediatricians, with 92% reporting they planned to get their children vaccinated after it was strongly recommended by their doctor.
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