PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ A new national poll reveals 1 in 3 parents have no plans to get their children vaccinated against the flu this year and local doctors tell 12 News that’s a bad idea for everyone.
The poll, conducted by C.S. Mott’s Children’s Hospital in Michigan, also said two in three parents don’t believe getting a flu shot is more important this year than it was years past.
Dr. Erica Hardy, director of infectious disease at Woman & Infants Hospital, believes that needs to change in Rhode Island, especially during a pandemic.
“Even though a child might do okay with the flu, children can get very ill with the flu,” Hardy said. “They can also give the flu to more vulnerable members of the community or their grandparents or pregnant parents.”
R.I. Department of Health spokesperson Joseph Wendelken said one the top reasons to get the flu vaccine this year involves a “twindemic” or the combination of both the flu and COVID-19, as well as trying to lessen the strain on the health care system.
“Flu vaccination this year is more important than almost any other year than we can remember,” Wendelken said. “This is important because we also want to make sure our hospital system doesn’t get overwhelmed by hospitalizations.”
Dr. Elizabeth Lange, a pediatrician at Coastal Medical Pediatrics, tells 12 News people need to realize how serious the flu can be for people of all ages.
“Before this year I think people viewed it as a bad cold that you get over, but what they don’t realize is that children die from influenza,” Lange said. “One hundred and eighty-eight pediatric deaths were reported in last year’s flu season and thousands of children were admitted to the hospital with complications from the flu.”
Both doctors also said that one reason why parents may not be taking their kids to get the flu shot is because they don’t want to take them inside a doctor’s office, but both said there are other options such as mobile flu shot clinics and drive-throughs.
Rhode Island Flu Shot Locations
- Rhode Island Community Clinics: offering indoor and outdoor flu vaccinations
- Waterman Pediatrics: offering drive-through flu vaccinations
- CVS Pharmacy Flu Clinics
- Lifespan Mobile Flu Clinic: offering outdoor flu vaccinations