Using education to tackle parents' concerns about the flu shot

Educating families to alleviate fear in pediatric populations regarding the flu vaccine will improve the vaccination rate and protect high-risk children. Due to the negative effects of the flu in children with diabetes, it is vital that at-risk youth be vaccinated.

More emphasis should be placed on educating families and children with diabetes to obtain an annual influenza vaccine, according to recent research presented at the American Diabetes Association Virtual 81st Scientific Sessions. In a study conducted, rising rates of vaccine dismissal and distrust are a cause of large percentages of youth not being vaccinated. However, adolescent children were open to vaccination at higher rates.

The study, which was featured in a virtual poster presentation at the conference, attempts to understand family attitudes towards the influenza vaccination in a diabetic clinic in order to improve vaccination rates for children with diabetes. This is because flu vaccination rates in children across the United States were approximately 20% below the national goal set by Healthy People 2020, the study authors reported.

It is well known that diabetes is a risk factor for morbidity and mortality for patients who contract influenza infections in the United States. Influenza infections are known to negatively affect blood glucose levels in these children as well. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends influenza vaccinations in all children over 6 months of age, especially those in high-risk groups.

In this study, 64 patients aged 2 to 20 years were evaluated at a New York City diabetic clinic from December 2019 through March 2020.

Fifty-seven percent of these families stated their children had already received the influenza vaccine during that time. Another 13% indicated they still plan to receive the influenza vaccination.Additionally, 70% of the families from this New York City diabetic clinic said that they would receive the influenza vaccine if offered. The children aged 10 through 15 years demonstrated the highest vaccination rate at 70%, according to the study.

Moreover, 27% of the patients (families) did not intend to get the influenza vaccine and offered several reasons for refusing. Some of the most common reasons for refusing the vaccine included patient preference (31%), disbelief in the vaccination efficacy (21%), concerns for adverse effects of the vaccination (21%), and that they were too busy to get the vaccine (10.5%).

The study authors concluded that emphasis should be placed on educating the family and kids to obtain an annual influenza vaccine and to alleviate their most common hesitations by improving communication about the vaccine and its benefits, especially in high-risk children.

This article was originally published by Drug Topics.

Reference

1. Apsan J, Coppedge E, Antal Z. Understanding attitudes toward influenza vaccination among children with diabetes in a NYC hospital. Presented at: American Diabetes Association Virtual 81st Scientific Sessions; June 25-29, 2021; online. Accessed June 25, 2021.