­Caregivers of Hospitalized Children Are Less Concerned About Influenza During the COVID-19 Pandemic Than Pre-Pandemic

More parents/caregivers were influenza vaccine-hesitant in 2020 to 2021 than in 2019 to 2020, according to new data.

Parents who had not vaccinated or did not intend to have their children vaccinated against influenza had a higher family income and were less likely to be Hispanic than those who had vaccinated or intended to have their children vaccinated, according to prospective, repeated assessments made at a large pediatric hospital.

Although influenza vaccination is recommended for all children aged at least 6 months old, vaccine uptake is suboptimal. To measure child influenza vaccine coverage and identify factors associated with vaccine hesitancy before and during the COVID-19 pandemic, the researchers assessed influenza knowledge, attitudes, behaviors, and vaccine hesitancy among parents/caregivers of hospitalized children ages 6 months to 18 years at Texas Children’s Hospital.

Assessments were made by using the Parent Attitudes About Childhood Vaccines survey from December 11, 2019, to January 31, 2020, and from December 8, 2020, to April 5, 2021. A score of at least 50 revealed vaccine hesitancy, and 13% of parents were influenza vaccine-hesitant in 2019 to 2020 vs 17% in 2020 to 2021. Parents reported that 73% of children had received or were going to receive influenza vaccination in 2019 to 2020, vs 68% in 2020 to 2021.

Compared with 2019 to 2020 data, in 2020 to 2021, parents were less likely to agree that all children should get an influenza shot every year, to believe influenza can be dangerous in children, and to be scared of their child getting influenza. One-third of parents believed you can get influenza from the vaccine.

As a result, the researchers concluded that during the COVID-19 pandemic, parents of hospitalized children were less concerned about influenza than pre-pandemic and that misinformation about influenza and vaccination persisted.

According to principal investigator Marisa Orbea, MD, “Increased efforts may be needed to educate caregivers about the importance of influenza immunization during the 2021–22 season.”

—Ellen Kurek


Orbea M, Dominguez J, Cunningham R, Healy CM, Boom JA, Bocchini C. Influenza vaccine hesitancy in hospitalized children, before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. Paper presented at: IDWeek 2021; September 29-October 3, 2021; Virtual.