Ask Dr. Nandi: 1 in 3 parents won't get flu shots for their child during COVID-19, study finds

Posted at 5:49 PM, Sep 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-28 17:49:49-04

(WXYZ) — According to a Michigan poll, one-third of parents have no plans to get their children vaccinated for influenza this year. And two-thirds don’t feel that a flu shot is important, despite health officials emphasizing the need for people of all ages to get vaccinated during the pandemic.

I am very concerned about this. The poll was released today by Michigan Medicine's C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. It’s a national poll and over 2,000 parents with kids between the ages of 2 and 18 participated.

Now, as to why one-third of parents are skipping the flu shot for their kids, here are the most common reasons:

  • 42% were concerned about side effects from the flu vaccine
  • 40% said they felt the flu shot is not necessary
  • 32% felt it’s not effective
  • And 14% are worried about getting infected with COVID-19 while at a health care site

I am a parent, I have 4 kids, and I can tell you that I support vaccinations. In fact, tomorrow my kids will be getting the flu shot.

Now, as for what to tell parents, first of all, when it comes to side effects, the most common ones are soreness where the shot was given, headache, fever, nausea, and muscle aches. If kids get any of these, they are typically mild and don’t last long.

Now, when it comes to safety, there have been hundreds of millions of people who have received flu shots. And there has been a ton of research. And flu vaccines have a very good safety record.

When it comes to effectiveness, yes that can vary year to year. So it’s possible that your child could still get sick. However, studies have shown flu vaccination can reduce the severity of illness.

Lastly, for the parents who are concerned about going into a doctor’s office, please reach out to them. Because they will have COVID-19 precautions in place.

Children can die from the flu. Last year there were 188 pediatric deaths reported – 6 of those were in Michigan. Plus kids can suffer from serious complications. Like swelling of the brain, pneumonia, and also dehydration that can also be deadly if not treated.

I would suggest that everyone over the age of 6 months gets the flu shot before the end of October. Flu and COVID symptoms are very similar. So we could end up with extremely long lines for COVID tests. And, we certainly don’t want to overwhelm our hospitals with both flu and COVID-19 patients.

Additional Coronavirus information and resources:

Click here for a page with resources including a COVID-19 overview from the CDC, details on cases in Michigan, a timeline of Governor Gretchen Whitmer's orders since the outbreak, coronavirus' impact on Southeast Michigan, and links to more information from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the CDC and the WHO.

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