School-based influenza immunization may increase coverag

October 1, 2010

To identify parents' beliefs and barriers related to influenza immunization of school-aged children and to evaluate how accepting parents are of school-based influenza immunization, investigators surveyed parents of students at an elementary school in Salt Lake City, Utah.

To identify parents' beliefs and barriers related to influenza immunization of school-aged children and to evaluate how accepting parents are of school-based influenza immunization, investigators surveyed parents of students at an elementary school in Salt Lake City, Utah. They asked respondents to indicate on a 4-point scale their level of agreement with statements related to beliefs about their children's susceptibility to influenza, severity of influenza, risks and benefits of influenza immunization, and barriers to immunization, as well as their attitudes toward school-based immunization programs. The survey was administered in November and December 2008.

Of 259 respondents, 26% indicated that their children had already received at least 1 dose of the influenza vaccine (already-immunized group); 24% said that they intended to immunize their children (plan-to-immunize group); and 50% said that they had no plans to immunize their children (no-plan-to-immunize group). Factors associated with immunization were beliefs that immunization is a social norm and is beneficial, having discussed the vaccine with a healthcare provider, and disagreeing that the child is likely to have a serious reaction to the vaccine.

Three-quarters of respondents indicated that they would have their children immunized against influenza at school if the vaccine were offered for free. Of interest, 59% of respondents in the no-plan-to-immunize group said that they would accept immunization if the vaccine were offered at school for free, and 61% said that they would have their children immunized at school if the influenza vaccine were offered for $10.

Commentary
School-based influenza immunization programs just make sense. At no other venue can the majority of children be reached as quickly. Granted, some classroom time and school resources are required for implementation, but the payback in decreased absences may more than make up for the time and expense. -Michael Burke, MD