Is the flu shot a complete waste of time?

Is the flu shot a complete waste of time?

A lot of parents seem to think so, and are skipping it at alarming rates -- something health experts warn is a bad idea.

Health officials are constantly urging us to get flu shots around this time of year, but many American parents are totally ignoring that advice for their own children because it doesn’t seem necessary, a new study says. Study lead author Dr. Scott Field of the University of Alabam School of Medicine said in a statement that it is the single most common reason for not getting the flu shot is that parents think that contracting influenza is low, and that the vaccine doesn’t offer much protection.

The study examined the 2012-2013 flu season and involved questioning 131 parents of children who were between the ages of 9 months and 18 years. They gathered data on flu vaccination and flu contraction history, reasons for not getting vaccinated, and what their plans were for the next flu season.

There were three common reasons parents gave for not getting flu shots for their kids: that the vaccine was unnecessary, that their may be side effects, and simply forgetting to do it.

“The first and most common reason could encompass a belief that risk for contracting influenza is low in their family as well as that the vaccine offers little protection,” explains study author Scott Field, MD, of the University of Alabama School of Medicine. “A reason rarely discussed in the medical literature relating to why many parents do not think influenza vaccines are needed is the infrequency with which many individuals and families experience influenza first hand.”

Flu is a serious illness that results in more hospitalizations and deaths among American children than any other disease that is preventable with vaccines. Health experts urge people to make it a priority to get flu shots.

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