WASHINGTON — Consumer advocates worry that misconceptions and fears about the safety and effectiveness of flu vaccines are hindering efforts to get children vaccinated, according to a new survey.
The National Consumers League announced Tuesday the results of the survey, conducted in August and September by Harris Interactive, which included 1,756 adults, including 993 who have children. The survey found that 45% of adults who had not received a flu shot before said it was because they were in good health, while 29% expressed concerns about side effects, and 24% perceived it as ineffective. Meanwhile, one-in-five said they hadn't received it because they didn't perceive the flu as a serious illness, while another one-in-five was afraid of contracting the flu through vaccination. More than one-third of adults say the flu is very severe, with women more likely to say so than men.
Among parents, 31% said they had not received a vaccination because they didn't think the flu was serious, but parents were also more likely to express concern about their children contracting the flu than any other disease from a list, except meningitis. Meanwhile, parents were more likely than the general population to avoid receiving a vaccination due to fears of contracting the flu, while 33% were highly concerned about their child contracting the flu, and 44% said their child had received vaccine.
"Getting the flu can be serious, especially to children under 5 and other high-risk groups," NCL executive director Sally Greenberg said. "In our survey, however, we found the majority of parents of a child in this age group have not had them vaccinated with the flu vaccine."