Parents Reportedly Don't Take the Flu Seriously Enough—and it Could Be Hurting Their Children
Over the last decade, an average of 140,000 to 810,000 people have been hospitalized annually due to complications from the flu—and a whopping 12,000 to 61,000 people per year lost their lives to the infectious disease. And yet, despite those staggering statistics, people of all ages are still not taking the flu seriously enough—and it's putting their health (and the health of their families) at risk.
That information comes from a new national survey conducted by the American Academy of Family Physicians. The survey, published Thursday (right smack-dab in the middle of flu season) polled 1,000 nationally-representative US adults ages 25-73 to determine the impact flu myths and misconceptions have on vaccination rates.
According to the survey, parents often fall victim to these flu myths, which can then affect how they prioritize vaccinations. A huge number of parents—nearly 3 out of 5, or 59%—said that their child has missed a flu shot at least once, due to misinformation or a misunderstanding (21% said they didn't want their child to get sick, 13% said their child doesn't need the flu shot, and 10% said they don't think the flu is that serious).
Men, it seems, also greatly underestimate the dangers associated with the flu: Per the survey, 73% vastly underestimated the number of flu-related deaths last year (FYI: The CDC says there were 34,200 flu-related deaths during the 2018-2019 season.) Men are also reportedly more likely skip a flu shot themselves—along with one for their child—because they don't believe the flu is that serious.
Beth Oller, MD, a family physician in Kansas, believes that the false medical information flying around—including myths like "you can get the flu from the flu shot"—are due largely to the fact that patients aren't talking to their doctors. "It's causing a major gap in knowledge," she tells Health.
But there's another factor in the misinformation out there: anti-vaccination movements. Certain groups—including millennials and African Americans—appear to be most susceptible to anti-vaccination rhetoric.