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Flu shots more crucial than ever, docs say



Despite the overwhelming advice from the medical community, significant numbers of families are not immunizing this year.

Docs and parents need to discuss pros and cons of flu vaccine


Despite healthcare professionals urging parents to immunize their kids for flu during the Covid-19 pandemic, some families are more reluctant than ever to do so. According to the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital National Poll on Children'sHealth at Michigan Medicine, one in three families do not plan to vaccinate their kids this year.

This worries doctors. They fret about simultaneous peaks of flu and Covid-19 overwhelming the already stressed healthcare system. Testing capacity would be compromised, as would health pros’ ability to catch and treat both respiratory illnesses effectively.

Sarah Clark, co-director of the poll, says, “The important thing this year is to make sure that kids get a flu vaccine even when the family hasn't already established a pattern or a habit of making sure kids get one every year.”

The survey polled 2000 parents of at least one child age 2-18. One third either didn’t believe in a flu shot’s efficacy, or cited concerns about side effects. They also expressed apprehension about bringing their children to a healthcare practitioner’s office. These parents are not sold on the overwhelming majority of doctors’ offices developing extensive protocols to keep visitors – both children and adults – safe.

Clearly, the health crisis of Covid-19 has created chronic fear in households the likes of which our society has not seen since the 1955 polio epidemic or the Spanish Flu of 1918. Unlike in those eras, however, parents now have unprecedented access to information, and, crucially, misinformation.

The Internet is the double-edged sword in the middle of it all. While it is a great connector, it has also become dramatically divisive and anxiety inducing. Meanwhile, the CDC and the WHO occasionally revise Covid-19 safety guidelines. This was especially true in the early days of the pandemic. It’s therefore become harder for some to trust organizations telling them what they should do to be safe, whether it’s regarding Covid-19 or influenza. Internet-based criticisms lobbied at the medical community in general are dizzying, in part because websites and social media provide platforms for emphatic, unregulated dissent, largely from people with no medical training, but significant persuasive powers.

Nevertheless, healthcare professionals are adamant: “There is a lot of misinformation about the flu vaccine," Clark asserts. “But it is the best defense for children against serious health consequences of influenza and the risk of spreading it to others.”



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