Pandemic could be driving more parents to get on board with flu shot: study

University of B.C. study gauges willingness for parents to vaccinate children for influenza

A nurse administers a flu shot in Princeton, Illinois, on Oct. 12, 2017. MUST CREDIT: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

COVID-19 could be driving more parents to plan on immunizing their children with the flu shot this fall, a new study by the University of British Columbia suggests.

The study, recently published in the Journal of Pediatrics, looked at 3,000 families from Canada, Israel, Japan, Spain, Switzerland and the U.S. who visited 17 different emergency departments between mid-March and the end of June.

When asked on their willingness to vaccinate their children ahead of the upcoming flu season, 54 per cent said they were – a 16 per cent increase from the same survey conducted in 2019.

Among parents who did not vaccinate their children last year, nearly 29 per cent said they have changed their mind.

Dr. Ran Goldman, the study’s lead author, said in a statement that vaccines for influenza will be a critical piece in protecting children and adults against viral infections as health officials aren’t yet sure on the adverse impacts if someone is to contract COVID-19 and the common flu at the same time.

Overall, parents said they were more likely to plan to immunize their children if they were worried about the child having the novel coronavirus, if they themselves received the flu vaccine last year, or if their child was regularly vaccinated.

“Understanding parents’ plans for the upcoming influenza season will help us respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and future public health needs,” Goldman said.

In an interview with the Canadian Press, the doctor said the magic threshold for a vaccine to be highly effective is about 70 per cent.

Although he believes that goal can be reached, Goldman noted that the media and the scientific community must work harder to help dispel myths and disinformation about vaccine use.

“Vaccination is the world’s greatest public health achievement,” Goldman said, stressing the impact vaccines have had on global mortality rates over the last century.

“If we reach 70 to 80 per cent of the population — not even 100 per cent — I’d be really thrilled.”

– with files from The Canadian Press


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

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