Public health officials, doctors concerned that more kids won’t get flu vaccine this year

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- More than one-third of kids didn't get vaccinated against flu last year. Public health officials are concerned that more won't get protection this year even though there's enough vaccine. That's because only shots are being given. There's no FluMist, the nasal vaccine.

Hillary Hopkins says her kids need to be needled.

"I think certainly the way that kids interact in school and on the playground and how germs are spread, everyone is certainly at risk for flu," she said.

So little Nola and her big brother, Kauffman, are getting flu shots. There's no option of FluMist this year because it wasn't effective in recent years. That's led to concern that fewer kids will get vaccinated. At Pediatric Associates, they're seeing more reluctance among kids and parents.

"They look at the kiddo, it's like, well, 'I didn't prepare them to get a flu vaccine today' so that's -- then they become apprehensive about it," said Dr. Kevin Burgert, a pediatrician.

"We were still planning to get the flu vaccine, but definitely Kauffman, my 4-year-old, was a little concerned about getting a shot rather than the mist," said Hopkins.

You could hear and see that concern although it was gone within seconds after the shot.

The shots-only situation could be one more reason for parents who question whether their kids really need the vaccine to avoid it. A new survey found the number one reason kids don't get vaccinated is parents thinking it's unnecessary.

"If you have a couple of years of not being sick, your natural tendency would be to say, 'We don't need that vaccine. My kids are really healthy'," said Dr. Burgert.

But he says flu can strike anyone in any year, and strike hard.

"They come down with fever for five, six, seven days, high fevers. They get muscle aches, muscle pains. They miss a week of school. They feel miserable," he said.

The Hopkins' kids are happy now, and with vaccination, they should be more likely to avoid misery this flu season.

The survey is in the American Journal of Infection Control. Doctors remind you that flu causes more hospital stays and deaths in children than any other vaccine-preventable disease.