With just under two weeks until winter is officially here, parents are being urged to get their kids vaccinated against influenza, as new figures show only one in 10 kids have had the jab.
The latest Royal Children’s Hospital (RCH) National Child Health Poll, released on Wednesday, also found only about 57 per cent of Australian children are likely to be vaccinated at all this winter, with two thirds of parents opting not to vaccinate not being aware the jab is needed annually.
RCH paediatrician, and report author, Dr Anthea Rhodes, said one third of parents were also unaware their child can get seriously ill from the flu.
“These knowledge gaps, along with commonly-held misbeliefs about the necessity of annual vaccination, how well the vaccine works (efficacy) and side-effects, are associated with parents’ hesitancy to get their child vaccinated against the flu,” wrote Dr Rhodes.
“Flu is the leading cause of vaccine preventable hospitalisations and deaths in children aged less than five years in Australia.
“Proven public health measures such as vaccination and improved hygiene can substantially reduce the impact of these infectious diseases on children and their families.
“As winter rapidly approaches, healthcare providers should actively promote flu vaccination, especially to families who are unsure or have not vaccinated in the past.”
Dr Rhoades suggests the flu vaccine should be made free for kids to boost the uptake, especially for those under the age of five.