Despite the fact that 180 kids died from the flu last season (80 percent of which weren't vaccinated against the illness), many parents are still planning on avoiding the flu vaccine this year. The question is, why?
According to a poll published by C.S. Mott Children's Hospital, 34 percent of the surveyed parents said that although their children's doctors recommended getting the flu vaccine, they wanted to make their own decisions based on what they heard from friends and family. Most of these parents claimed to have heard negative things about the flu vaccine from internet sources and other people. It's estimated that nearly 4 in every 10 parents are making decisions about the flu vaccine based on what they've read or heard, not on what their health officials have recommended.
To be clear, the CDC adamantly states that the flu vaccine should be given to everyone over the age of six months, as long as their health and allergies permit it. You cannot contract the flu from the vaccine, although you can experience mild symptoms in the hours after receiving the shot. Even if you received the flu shot last year, you must get the new shot in order to protect yourself from this year's strain of the illness.
A study from last year indicates for the first time that the flu vaccine can actually be life-saving for young children. Not only does the vaccine significantly reduce the chance of hospitalization, but it also drastically lowers the risk of severe complications and even death from influenza.
Furthermore, getting the vaccine is not just about protecting your own family; it's about protecting those around you. Babies, young children, elderly people and individuals with chronic health conditions are more vulnerable to serious sicknesses like the flu, and by getting the flu shot, you may help prevent them from coming into contact with the virus.
If you, like many parents, have read or heard negative things about the influenza vaccine, don't automatically assume that your family should avoid it. Do your research first and make sure you're learning from trusted sources like the CDC or the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Have you and your children gotten vaccinated this year? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments below.