22543 What Do Children Know about Influenza and Influenza Vaccines?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Grand Hall

Background: In 2009, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice (ACIP) expanded their recommendations for annual influenza vaccine to include school-aged children through 18 years.  As influenza vaccination rates are lower in older children, assessing school-aged children’s knowledge of influenza and influenza vaccines might help increase vaccination coverage.

Objectives: To explore children's knowledge, experiences, and perceptions of influenza and influenza vaccines.  

Methods: A nationally representative, web survey was completed by 544 US children (ages 8-12 y) during August-September 2009. 

Results: 95% of children had heard the word “flu” and 84% reported knowing what influenza entails.  A higher proportion of children aged 11-12 years reported knowledge of influenza (88.3%) vs those aged 8-10 (79.9%; P=0.0125). Children reported that influenza symptomology included fever (93%), headache (77%) and cough (75%). Participants considered influenza to be severe, with 92% reporting it to be “pretty bad” or “really bad” and 42% being aware that death was possible. Fifty percent reported having influenza in the past. When asked “Do you think you’ll get the flu?”, 11%, 75% and 14% responded they ”probably will”,  “might or might not” and “won’t” get influenza, respectively. When asked if they would get influenza if someone they are around gets it, 41% reported they “probably will” and 55% reported they “might or might not.” Most children (77%) believed that influenza vaccination is a good idea; 55% had received an influenza vaccine in the past. When specifically asked about contracting the “swine flu” (novel A/H1N1), 47% of children familiar with swine influenza reported being worried about it.

Conclusions: Children in this sample were knowledgeable about influenza and its symptoms, and most recognized the importance of getting an influenza vaccine. These results suggest that children may be informed participants in influenza prevention and should be included in vaccination discussions. Sponsored by MedImmune.

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