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More than 70% of parents of children with asthma said they in favor of the influenza vaccine during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Influenza vaccination rates increased dramatically for pediatric patients with asthma since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
A team, led by Murat Özer, University of Health Sciences, determined the differences in attitudes and views toward influenza and pneumococcal vaccines in parents of children with asthma during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The investigators examined asthmatic children between 6-18 years who were admitted to the pediatric allergy clinic between October 2020 and February 2021. Each parent was given a questionnaire about the child’s demographics and medical issues, as well as their attitudes and thoughts on the 2 vaccines both before and during the pandemic.
There were a total of 78 pediatric patients with asthma included in the study, with a rate of influenza vaccination prior to the pandemic of 29.5%.
However, the rate of individuals who either received or wanted to receive the vaccine during the pandemic rose to 71.8% (P = 0.001).
The rate of influenza vaccination increase coincided with the regular use of asthma medication, the presence of atopy, and history of COVID-19 infection in the family or close environment.
For the pneumococcal vaccination, 69.2% of parents said their child’s vaccination was incomplete or they were unaware of their child’s vaccination status.
“This study demonstrated that there was an increase in the rate and willingness of parents of asthmatic children to have their children vaccinated against influenza during the COVID-19 pandemic,” the authors wrote. “As for the pneumococcal vaccine, the majority of the parents did not have enough information or they were unaware of the vaccination status of their children.”
The increase in influenza vaccinations for pediatric patients coincides with other data showing pediatric influenza hospitalizations decreased during the pandemic, particularly last year.
Investigators observed a significant decrease in pediatric influenza-related hospitalizations following the onset of the pandemic, with a complete absence of pediatric influenza infection-related hospitalization in Canada during the 2020 - 2021 influenza season.
In the pre-pandemic period, the total number of pediatric influenza-related hospitalizations was 9036, from which 8598 (95.2%) occurred between September - April. Then, in the pandemic period, there were only 3 pediatric influenza-related hospitalizations reported in April 2020.
Data show in comparison there were 120 pediatric influenza-related hospitalizations that occurred in March 2020, while the average for April during the pre-pandemic period was 92 cases (53 - 210).
During the entire pandemic period, there were 126 pediatric influenza-related admissions reported, which was significantly lower than predicted for the period which totaled 2227 (P <.00001). Throughout the 2020 - 2021 influenza session, there were 0 pediatric influenza-related hospitalizations reported, with predicted number of hospitalizations at 1638.
Further, data show the average total number of pediatric influenza-related ICU admissions during each influenza season in the pre-pandemic period was 141 (59 - 255), while the average rate of ICU admissions per 100 pediatric influenza-related hospitalizations was 15.9 during the pre-pandemic period. There were 0 pediatric influenza-related ICU admissions in the 2020 - 2021 season.
The study, “Attitudes Towards Influenza and Pneumococcal Vaccines in Parents of Asthmatic Children During the COVID-19 Pandemic,” was published online in Pediatric Pulmonology.