When Parents Get A Handout With Flu Facts, The Vaccination Rate Increases

Despite the fact that last flu season had been one of the worst years for the flu affecting people in 45 states, with children often being the worst affected, the CDC reports that just under 60% of people vaccinate their children with the flu shot. A new study is showing that by simply giving parents a basic pamphlet about the flu actually leads to more parents vaccinating their children. The more you know.

The study was conducted by researchers at Columbia University Irving Medical Center and found that in a randomized, controlled clinical trial that when basic pamphlets containing flu facts were given to parents in pediatrician waiting rooms it can increase the number of children who receive the flu shot.

"Parents' concerns and misperceptions about vaccines are on the rise," says Melissa Stockwell, MD, MPH, associate professor of pediatrics and population and family health at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and senior author on the paper. "But previous studies have shown that offering information to disprove vaccine myths, in some cases, only reinforces parents' beliefs about vaccination and can even reduce the number of vaccine-hesitant parents who intend to get their kids vaccinated."

We know the best way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated, yet the number of parents vaccinating their children is just over 50%. "In our study, we hoped to identify educational content that would encourage parents to get their children vaccinated against the flu," says Vanessa P. Scott, MD, first author and assistant clinical professor of pediatrics at University of California San Diego.

400 parent and child pairs who attended pediatric clinics in Manhattan were studied for this research. After answering a brief questionnaire about their feelings towards the flu shot, one-third of the group were given a one-pager on local flu information, one-third were given a one-pager with national flu information and the rest were given no handouts.

Of the parents who received a handout, 72% ended up vaccinating their child, while 65% of those who didn't receive a handout got their child the flu shot. The handout with the national information had a greater impact.

"We found that a low-cost handout that can be easily implemented in any pediatrics practice had a significant and meaningful impact on influenza vaccination in children," Stockwell said. "The difference in magnitude of the number of deaths from influenza may have made the national handout more impactful," Stockwell added.

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