The West

Warning to parents on flu vaccine
Sarah Pietrzak and her children Joseph, 9, Liam, 5, and Isabella, 7. Sarah has made sure that they are up to date with their flu shots. Picture: Steve Ferrier/The West Australian

A leading Perth paediatrician has warned parents not to gamble with their children's health as new figures show almost two in three parents will not immunise their children against influenza.

Peter Richmond, who heads the Telethon Institute for Child Health's vaccine trials, said more than 400 children had been taken to Princess Margaret Hospital with influenza this year.

Dr Richmond said it was important for parents to fully understand the risks of childhood influenza.

"We often see a significant number of children get hospitalised with complications of influenza, including things like febrile convolutions, sometimes secondary pneumonias and occasionally children actually die of flu," he said.

Dr Richmond urged parents to protect their children.

"You can take a chance but if it happens to be your child that becomes severely unwell - then that wasn't a good gamble," he said.

Dr Richmond said he understood many parents had lost confidence in the flu vaccine after a spate of bad reactions among young children in 2010 which led to a three-month nationwide suspension of vaccinations.

He said the reactions were associated with a specific brand of vaccine and many others on the market were safe.

A poll of nearly 700 adults for HBF and _The West Australian _found 61 per cent of Perth parents did not intend to give their child the flu vaccine, up from 54 per cent the previous year.

But the survey found childhood immunisation in general was broadly supported with 74 per cent of respondents saying it should be compulsory.

Mother-of-three Sarah Pietrzak had her children vaccinated after her son Joseph had a bad dose of the flu last year.

"Seeing my child very ill - I wouldn't want to go through that again and I wouldn't wish it on anyone," she said.

The West Australian

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