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Parent's Fears Deprive Some Asthmatics of Flu Shot: Study

TUESDAY, May 17 (HealthDay News) -- Concern about vaccine safety is one of the main reasons why some parents in the United States are reluctant to have their asthmatic children vaccinated against the flu, researchers report.

The new study also found that parents who don't vaccinate their asthmatic children are less likely to consider flu to be a trigger for their child's asthma.

Flu vaccination is recommended for all children, but especially for those with asthma because flu can trigger asthma flare-ups.

The study included 237 parents who had at least one child with asthma and took part in a national survey conducted in the summer of 2010.

Seventy percent of the parents said they had their child vaccinated against seasonal or H1N1 influenza during the 2009-2010 flu season, and 65 percent said they planned to have their child vaccinated in the 2010-2011 flu season.

Parents who didn't vaccinate their children were less likely than those who did vaccinate to believe that getting the flu was a "very important" asthma trigger (53 percent vs. 72 percent), and more likely to be concerned that the vaccine would cause side effects (60 percent vs. 26 percent) or make their child sick (41 percent vs. 13 percent).

The study was scheduled for presentation May 16 at the American Thoracic Society's international conference in Denver.

"Not surprisingly, parents who felt that their children were likely to experience an asthma attack when they got a respiratory infection were more likely to get their child vaccinated," study author Dr. Toby Lewis, an assistant professor of pediatric pulmonology at C.S. Mott Children's Hospital in Ann Arbor, Mich., said in a society news release.

"Worries about potential side effects of the vaccine emerged as an important factor for families who did not have their child vaccinated. The group as a whole indicated that their physician was an important source of health information for their family, suggesting that physicians may have an opportunity to advise families about this important preventative measure," Lewis added.

"The results will help physicians, public health professionals and health educators tailor messages most effectively to this group of families," Lewis concluded.

More information

The American Lung Association has more about children and asthma.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: American Thoracic Society, news release, May 16, 2011

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