Children more likely to be vaccinated if parents had flu shot, OHSU study finds


PORTLAND, OR (KOIN) — A new study by researchers at Oregon Health and Science University shows that children are twice as likely to be fully vaccinated by age 2 if at least one parent has received a vaccine against the flu. Children whose both parents have been vaccinated against the flu would be even more likely to be fully vaccinated.

The OHSU findings were published in the peer-reviewed medical journal “Vaccine” and suggest that an effective way to increase vaccinations in children may be to increase the prevalence of flu shots in parents.

The news comes as public health officials urge people to get vaccinated ahead of a “severe” 2022-2023 flu season, which the CDC reports causes the highest hospitalization rate since the 2010-2011 flu season. Children and elderly would be most at risk of hospitalization due to this year’s influenza virus.

Influenza hospitalization rates are abnormally high for this time of year. | CDC

Childhood vaccination rates in the United States are high, with more than 90% of American children receiving scheduled vaccinations. However, data shows that children living in poverty and children covered by Medicaid or without medical insurance are less likely to be vaccinated than those not living in poverty and those with private insurance.

This research, said Heather Angier, an assistant professor in the OHSU School of Medicine, gives experts a better understanding of childhood vaccination rates.

“We know that there are certain factors that prevent children from receiving routine vaccinations, putting them at risk of serious illness or even death from diseases, many of which are entirely preventable,” Angier said. “This research is important because having a better understanding of the factors that affect this issue, including parents’ beliefs about vaccines and their vaccination status, is key to increasing vaccination rates in children.”

The spread of the influenza virus has decreased significantly over the past two years due to precautions taken to slow the spread of COVID-19. However, fewer flu-related illnesses, OHSU warns, means people’s immune systems could be weaker and less equipped to fight off viral infections this year. Flu and COVID-19 vaccines are widely available for children and adults at Oregon pharmacies and health units.

“The immune systems of children and adults lack practice in fighting these viruses,” OHSU said. “So getting vaccinated is especially important this year.”


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