Nav: Home

Flu fact sheet for parents increases vaccination rate in children

July 10, 2019

NEW YORK, NY (July 10, 2019)--Young children are more likely to suffer severe, even life-threatening complications from the flu, but only around half of children in the US get the flu vaccine.

A cheap and simple pamphlet about the flu, handed to parents in their pediatrician's waiting room, can increase the number of children who get the flu vaccine, a new study from researchers at Columbia University has found.

The study--a randomized, controlled clinical trial--is one of the first to look at the effect of educational information on influenza vaccination rates in children.

Background

"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."

Influenza spreads easily and affects about 8% of children each year. In young children, especially those under 2 years of age, the flu is more likely to cause pneumonia and severe inflammatory responses, which can result in hospitalization and even death.

The best way to prevent influenza is with the influenza vaccine, aka 'flu shot,' and both the CDC and American Academy of Pediatrics recommend annual flu vaccination for children age 6 months and up.

"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 who was previously a general academic pediatrics fellow at Columbia University Irving Medical Center and is currently an assistant clinical professor of pediatrics at University of California San Diego.

What the Study Found

The study included 400 parent-and-child pairs at pediatric clinics in northern Manhattan. The parents answered a brief questionnaire to assess their attitudes toward the flu shot and their intent to vaccinate. One-third received a one-page handout with local information about the flu, another third received a one-page handout with national information about the flu, and the rest received usual care (no handout). Both handouts emphasized the risk of getting the flu, the seriousness of the disease, and vaccine effectiveness. Providers were unaware of the parent's study participation.

The researchers found that nearly 72% of children whose parents were given either fact sheet were vaccinated before the end of the season compared to around 65% of those that got usual care.

Parents who received the national handout were more likely to have their child vaccinated on the day of the clinic visit (59%) compared to those who didn't receive either handout (53%).

Parents who had fewer concerns about vaccination were more likely to vaccinate their children by the end of the season (74% versus 59% of parents with significant concerns) and on the day of the clinic visit (59% and 45%, respectively). Approximately 90% of parents who said they planned to vaccinate their children did so by the end of the flu season.

What the Study Means

"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 says.

The handout is available in the paper.

Although Stockwell expected the handout with local information to have a bigger impact, the handout with national data improved vaccination rate on the day of the office visit.

"The difference in magnitude of the number of deaths from influenza may have made the national handout more impactful," Stockwell says.

Next Steps

Future research will compare the effectiveness, cost-effectiveness, and feasibility of different methods of delivering educational information about influenza--including handouts, text messages, video, and interactive social media.
-end-
About the Study

The study is titled, "Office-Based Educational Handout for Influenza Vaccination: A Randomized Controlled Trial," and was published July 10 in the journal Pediatrics.

Additional authors are Douglas Opel (University of Washington and Seattle Children's Hospital), Jason Reifler (University of Exeter, UK), Sharon Rikin (Columbia University Irving Medical Center and NewYork-Presbyterian), Kalpana Pethe (CUIMC and NYP), and Angela Barrett (CUIMC).

The study was supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration, a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award Institutional Training Grant, and the European Research Council.

The authors report no relevant financial or other conflicts of interest.

Columbia University Irving Medical Center provides international leadership in basic, preclinical, and clinical research; medical and health sciences education; and patient care. The medical center trains future leaders and includes the dedicated work of many physicians, scientists, public health professionals, dentists, and nurses at the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, the Mailman School of Public Health, the College of Dental Medicine, the School of Nursing, the biomedical departments of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and allied research centers and institutions. Columbia University Irving Medical Center is home to the largest medical research enterprise in New York City and State and one of the largest faculty medical practices in the Northeast. For more information, visit cuimc.columbia.edu or columbiadoctors.org.

Columbia University Irving Medical Center

Related Influenza Articles:

How proteins help influenza A bind and slice its way to cells
Researchers have provided new insight on how two proteins help influenza A virus particles fight their way to human cells.
Eating elderberries can help minimize influenza symptoms
Conducted by Professor Fariba Deghani, Dr. Golnoosh Torabian and Dr.
Mechanism to form influenza A virus discovered
A new study by Maria João Amorim's team, from the Gulbenkian Institute of Science, now reveals where the genomes of the influenza A virus are assembled inside infected cells.
Bat influenza viruses could infect humans
Bats don't only carry the deadly Ebola virus, but are also a reservoir for a new type of influenza virus.
New VaxArray publication on influenza neuraminidase quantification
InDevR Inc. announced publication of 'A Neuraminidase Potency Assay for Quantitative Assessment of Neuraminidase in Influenza Vaccines' in npj Vaccines.
Fighting mutant influenza
Another flu season is here, which means another chance for viruses to mutate.
Influenza vaccine delays are a problem for pediatricians
Uptake of influenza vaccine among children is low compared to other childhood vaccines, and missed opportunities for vaccination play an important role in this low uptake.
For a better influenza vaccine, focus on the neglected 'N'
In the April 5, 2018, issue of the journal Cell, researchers push for greater emphasis on the neglected viral-surface influenza protein neuraminidase.
Previous influenza virus exposures enhance susceptibility in another influenza pandemic
New data analysis suggests that people born at the time of the 1957 H2N2 or Asian Flu pandemic were at a higher risk of dying during the 2009 H1N1 Swine Flu pandemic as well as the resurgent H1N1 outbreak in 2013-2014.
Annual influenza vaccination does not prevent natural immunity
Earlier studies have suggested that having repeated annual influenza vaccination can prevent natural immunity to the virus, and potentially increase the susceptibility to influenza illness in the event of a pandemic, or when the vaccine does not 'match' the virus circulating in the community.
More Influenza News and Influenza Current Events

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2019.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

In & Out Of Love
We think of love as a mysterious, unknowable force. Something that happens to us. But what if we could control it? This hour, TED speakers on whether we can decide to fall in — and out of — love. Guests include writer Mandy Len Catron, biological anthropologist Helen Fisher, musician Dessa, One Love CEO Katie Hood, and psychologist Guy Winch.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#541 Wayfinding
These days when we want to know where we are or how to get where we want to go, most of us will pull out a smart phone with a built-in GPS and map app. Some of us old timers might still use an old school paper map from time to time. But we didn't always used to lean so heavily on maps and technology, and in some remote places of the world some people still navigate and wayfind their way without the aid of these tools... and in some cases do better without them. This week, host Rachelle Saunders...
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dolly Parton's America: Neon Moss
Today on Radiolab, we're bringing you the fourth episode of Jad's special series, Dolly Parton's America. In this episode, Jad goes back up the mountain to visit Dolly's actual Tennessee mountain home, where she tells stories about her first trips out of the holler. Back on the mountaintop, standing under the rain by the Little Pigeon River, the trip triggers memories of Jad's first visit to his father's childhood home, and opens the gateway to dizzying stories of music and migration. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.