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Key Findings: Influenza Vaccination Practices of Physicians and Caregivers of Children with Neurologic and Neurodevelopmental Conditions – United States, 2011 – 12 Influenza Season

Boy getting a vaccine shotIn a new study published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, parents and doctors were surveyed to find out if children with neurologic or neurodevelopmental conditions were being vaccinated for the flu. They also asked parents where they receive information about vaccines, like the flu shot. CDC researchers found about half of children with neurologic or neurodevelopmental conditions are vaccinated against the flu each year. They also found that most parents look to their child’s health provider for information about vaccines, including the flu shot.  However, some pediatricians do not recognize specific conditions that put children at high risk for flu illness. Children with these conditions are more likely to have complications if they get sick with flu. This new study explains the important role that healthcare providers play in providing health information about flu vaccinations for children with neurologic and neurodevelopmental conditions and their families.

For more information, you can read the article here. Read more below for a summary of the findings from this article.

 

Main findings

  • About 1 in 2 children with neurologic and neurodevelopmental conditions are vaccinated against the flu each year.
  • About 3 out of 4 parents report that their child’s health provider is the main source of information about vaccines, including the flu shot. 
  • Health providers who regularly cared for children with neurologic and neurodevelopmental conditions were familiar with cerebral palsy, epilepsy, stroke, spinal cord conditions, and other brain conditions as high-risk conditions for flu illness.
  • In general, pediatricians did not recognize that intellectual disability is also a high-risk condition for flu.

 

Basics about Neurologic and Neurodevelopmental conditions

  • What are neurologic and neurodevelopmental conditions?  These conditions can include cerebral palsy, epilepsy, stroke, intellectual disability, or muscular dystrophy. People with these conditions sometimes have trouble with muscle or lung function, and difficulty with coughing, swallowing, or clearing fluids from their airways.

  • How can flu vaccines help children with neurologic and neurodevelopmental conditions? We know that children with these conditions can experience flu complications that can be life-threatening. A yearly flu vaccine can protect children with these conditions in many cases by preventing them from getting sick with the flu. 

About this study

The study researchers sent an on-line survey to parents or other caregivers on the Family Voices email list. Family Voices is a national advocacy group for children with special health care needs. Parents and other caregivers were asked about their knowledge, attitudes and behaviors related to vaccinating their children with neurologic or neurodevelopmental conditions against seasonal flu. About 1,000 parents of children with one of these conditions responded.

Researchers also sent an on-line survey to healthcare providers, using the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) specialty email lists. Providers were asked about their vaccine practices for different types of patients, and which chronic medical conditions were more likely to make someone severely ill from flu.

 

More Information

To learn more about the flu in children with neurologic or neurodevelopmental conditions and how to protect these children from illness, please visit http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/neurologic-pediatric.htm.

 

CDC’s Activities

CDC is partnering with organizations to coordinate communication activities for their constituents - including parents and caregivers, primary care clinicians, developmental pediatricians, and neurologists and other subspecialists - to increase awareness about flu prevention and treatment in children with neurodevelopmental and neuromuscular conditions.

 

References

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Influenza Vaccination Practices of Physicians and Caregivers of Children with Neurologic and Neurodevelopmental Conditions – United States, 2011 – 12 Influenza Season. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2013;62(36):744-746.

 
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