Flu shots are crucial in protecting young children

From staff and wire reports
January 23, 2008 at 12:10 pm  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

The flu is more serious than a common cold, but flu shots can help keep your family safe. Plain and simple.

In fact, influenza is the leading cause of vaccine-preventable deaths for kids, but despite recommendations from health experts, many parents still don't have their children vaccinated.

A new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows only a small fraction of the children who need to get a flu vaccination actually get one, despite the CDC recommendations that all children six months to five years old should get vaccinated.

Indeed, a recent survey by the Visiting Nurse Associations of America (VNAA) found almost half of moms of children under five do not get their kids vaccinated every year.

Of the 45 percent of these moms who did not follow CDC recommendations to get their kids vaccinated against the flu, one-third said they did not think it was necessary.

It is estimated that each year in the United States, more than 20,000 children less than five years old are hospitalized due to the flu, and children less than two years old are even more likely to be hospitalized by the flu.

“Nearly 100 American children under five years of age die every year from influenza,” stresses Richard Kanowitz, president of Families Fighting Flu.

The CDC’s recommendation for flu vaccinations extends beyond all children ages six months to five years old, to anyone in frequent contact with these young children -- meaning moms, dads, grandparents and child care providers. The VNAA’s survey found moms of children in this age group need help fighting the flu.

According to the survey:

•More than 75 percent of moms of children under five don’t get their whole family vaccinated against the flu.

•The majority of moms say they are not very concerned about their child developing serious flu complications.

•Only two percent of moms are concerned about a member of their family catching the flu at home.

•Forty-three percent of moms say their approach to the flu season is to “let nature take its course.”

Remember, children can be at high risk for health complications due to the flu. And with just one sick family member at home, more than 60 percent of household surfaces can harbor the flu virus, making it important to disinfect germ hot spots.

So, while vaccination is the first step in flu prevention for most young children, parents should also take steps at home.

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