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Fewer kids getting that yearly flu shot, researchers say

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New numbers show fewer kids are getting their yearly flu shot, according to research based on data from the Centers for Disease Control. Now doctors are reacting.

“The flu puts people in the hospital every year, and it actually leads to death in many cases,” said Dr. Nick Duncan, a physician at Intermountain Cottonwood Family Medicine.

Researchers at Columbia University looked at CDC data from eight flu seasons. They found, in recent years, fewer children under the age of 17 got vaccinated.

Duncan says kids need a shot every year because the strain of flu making the rounds can change season-to-season.

“After six months, they can start getting the flu shot. And really anyone older than 6 months who doesn’t have a contraindication to the flu shot, like an egg allergy, should be getting one,” he said.

Researchers concluded parents may be buying into the anti-vaccine movement, or else they may believe the shot does not work. Duncan says it’s important to make sure they know it does work, and it can’t give you the flu.

“The inactivated vaccine, which is the most common vaccine, does not contain a live virus so it cannot make you ill,” Duncan said. “You can have a reaction to it, but that’s different than getting sick.”

At the Utah Department of Health, Rebecca Ward advised patients to get the flu shot for the people around you.

“There may be pregnant women or other people with medical conditions who wouldn’t fare as well as you. (The flu) would affect them much differently,” she said.

And if you get the flu, your odds of severe illness or hospitalization are much lower if you’ve had the vaccine, Ward said.

The study found even when the previous flu season was a bad one, it did not impact vaccination rates. In 2018, the CDC reported just 63% of children and 45% of adults received the flu shot.

Our neighboring states now have flu activity, which means Utah could get more cases soon.