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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Columbia: Flu Fact Sheet for Parents Increases Vaccination Rate in Children

Young children are more likely to suffer severe, even life-threatening complications from the flu, but only around half of children in the U.S. get the flu vaccine. A new study from researchers at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health Columbia University Irving Medical Center has found that a cheap and simple pamphlet about the flu, handed to parents in their pediatrician’s waiting room, can increase the number of children who get the flu vaccine, .

The study — a randomized, controlled clinical trial — is one of the first to look at the effect of educational information on influenza vaccination rates in children.

“Previous studies have shown that offering information to disprove vaccine myths, in some cases, only reinforces parents’ beliefs about vaccination and can even reduce the number of vaccine-hesitant parents who intend to get their kids vaccinated,” says Dr. Melissa Stockwell, associate professor of population and family health at Columbia Mailman School and of pediatrics at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons.

The study included 400 parent-and-child pairs at pediatric clinics in northern Manhattan. One-third received a one-page handout with local information about the flu, another third received a one-page handout with national information about the flu, and the rest received usual care (no handout).

Dr. Stockwell found that nearly 72 percent of children whose parents were given either fact sheet were vaccinated before the end of the season compared to around 65 percent of those that got usual care.

“We found that a low-cost handout that can be easily implemented in any pediatrics practice had a significant and meaningful impact on influenza vaccination in children,” Dr. Stockwell says.

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