Poll: 34 percent of parents won't vaccinate kids against flu

Fewer people are getting flu shots for their kids, according to new data from C.S. Mott Children's Hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan. (CBS Austin file image)

Fewer people are getting flu shots for their kids, according to new data from C.S. Mott Children's Hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

The hospital says, their online poll administered in October showed 34 percent of parents do not plan on getting their children vaccinated against influenza in the 2018-2019 flu season.

Paul Gonzales and his nephew, Josh, aren't worried about flu season. Josh's parents already got him a flu shot and when Paul's kids were younger he made sure they got theirs too.

"Both of my children were asthmatic, so it was important that they got the flu shot every year," Gonzales recalls. Though he admits, he doesn't get the shot himself... for kids, he thinks it's wise.

"Their immune system, for the younger ones, is not as strong as older kids. Yeah, I definitely gave my children the flu shot," Gonzales says.

According to the CDC, during the 2017-2018 flu season, 172 children died from flu-related illnesses. The CDC says 80 percent of those kids didn't have a flu shot.

"I believe in vaccination. I vaccinate both of my children and I think it's a good way to prevent illness," says Dr. Lisa Gaw, pediatrician at Texas Children's Urgent Care in south Austin.

Dr. Gaw says it is concerning to learn about an increased number of parents forgoing flu shots for their kids. While doctors admit last year's vaccine wasn't as effective as they'd hoped -- they say you should still talk to your pediatrician about getting your kids vaccinated.

"What we get this year might be slightly different from what you got last year so we're hoping for better coverage," she explains.

Dr. Gaw says children under five years of age and those with chronic illness are at the highest risk for flu and flu-related complications. Getting the shot can also help protect those around you who can't get vaccinated-- like newborns and people with immunodeficiency diseases.

"Some people are like, 'The flu vaccine doesn't work,' and I'm like, 'Well, get the flu vaccine and if it covers the appropriate strains your child may not get flu or if they do get flu their symptoms aren't as bad and their illness will be shortened,'" she adds.

Austin Public Health does provide flu shots for adults and children who are uninsured or Medicaid recipients. The vaccinations cost $10 for children and $25 for adults, however no one will be denied services if they are unable to pay. For more information or to make an appointment, click here.

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