Many parents of kids with asthma are not having their children vaccinated against influenza due to unfounded fears about the vaccine’s adverse events, data indicate.

Influenza is a known trigger for asthma and influenza vaccine is currently recommended for all children aged older than 6 months that have a respiratory condition.

“Despite this recommendation vaccination rates remain low. The reason for under-immunization are poorly understood,” Toby Lewis, MD, of C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor, Mich., said in a press release.

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Lewis and colleagues conducted a national survey between August and Sept. 2010 to determine parental attitudes toward the vaccine, and determine reasons why some parents choose not to have their children vaccinated.

A total of 1,621 parents participated in the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health, with 237 indicating at least one child had asthma included in the final analysis. Parents were ethnically diverse and from a wide range of economic backgrounds, the researchers noted.

They found that 70% of study participants reported vaccinating their child against seasonal or H1N1 influenza during the 2009-2010 winter season, and 65% indicated that they intended to have their child vaccinated in the upcoming 2010-2011 season.

Although there were no significant differences in demographic variables between vaccinated on nonvaccinated kids, the researchers found that parental perceptions of vaccination and influenza differed between the groups.

Parents who chose not to vaccinate their child were less likely to view viral infections as a “very important” trigger in their child’s asthma (53% vs. 72%; P=0.02) and were more likely to worry about side effects from the vaccine (60% vs. 26%; P<0.001) and getting sick from the vaccine (41% vs. 13%; P<0.001).

“Worries about potential side effects of the vaccine emerged as an important factor for families who did not have their child vaccinated,” the researchers wrote.

They noted that clinicians are often an important source of health information for families and suggested taking all opportunities to advise parents about the importance of preventive measures such as vaccination.

Lewis TC. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2011; 183: A3789.