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H1N1 Flu: Are Parents Underestimating Risk to Kids?
Date:9/24/2009

publicized outbreak of H1N1 flu in Mexico in early 2009, Davis says.

In describing their perceived risk of H1N1 flu for children, one-third of parents indicate they believe H1N1 flu will be worse than seasonal flu. Nearly half of parents believe H1N1 and seasonal flu will be about the same for children, according to the poll.

These perceptions contrast information from the CDC suggesting that -- unlike what is typically seen with seasonal flu -- rates of illness and hospitalizations related to H1N1 flu are higher for children than for other age groups.

"It can be difficult to follow all the new information about a fast moving target like H1N1 flu," says Davis, who is also associate professor of public policy at the U-M Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. "Health care professionals and public health officials need to help parents and the community at-large understand that children are one of the groups at greatest risk for getting H1N1, and for getting very sick from the disease as well."

Among parents who do not plan to get their children vaccinated against H1N1 flu, or who are unsure, about half are worried about possible side effects of the vaccine. Among parents who do plan to get their children vaccinated against H1N1 flu, about 4 in 5 believe that H1N1 is a serious disease and worry about their children getting H1N1 illness. Parents who think H1N1 flu will be worse for children than seasonal flu were much more likely to plan to have their children vaccinated against H1N1 flu.

"This connection between perceived risk and plans to vaccinate against H1N1 flu makes a lot of sense," says Davis. "What it emphasizes is that to reach parents who are currently unsure about H1N1 vaccination and convince them to go ahead and vaccinate their kids, the health care community needs to focus on communicating key information about the risk of H1N1 flu for children."

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SOURCE U-M C.S. Mott Children's Hospital
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