Last year proved to be the most deadly flu season since 2004 among American children. Despite this alarming data, a recent poll by the University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital found one-third of parents did not intend to have their children vaccinated against the flu this year.
Experts believe parents underestimate the dangers of the flu, not realizing that half of the kids who have died from the flu were in good health prior. The poll said parents who skip the vaccine are seven times more likely to have heard negative messaging about the vaccine, and/or they don’t recall their pediatricians strongly recommending it.
Sarah Clark, the poll’s co-director and an associate research scientist in the university hospital’s pediatrics department, suggests parents are not getting the full picture or they may be forgetting the pediatrician’s recommendations due to a phenomenon called confirmation bias. Confirmation bias causes parents to recall only information they believe in.
With a flu vaccination rate of only 60 percent among children in the U.S., healthcare professionals see an opportunity to improve communications about the vaccine and hope to increase the vaccination rate this season.