A new survey of 952 parents shows they do not believe that vaccination is the best way to prevent their child from getting the influenza virus. In fact, the survey shows that vaccination ranks next to last among things parents believe they can do to help protect against the virus.

In February 2008, the US Centers for Disease Control expanded annual influenza vaccination recommendations to include all children 6 months to 18 years old.  However, this survey showed that only 44% of parents said their child has ever received an influenza vaccination.

When asked about the best defense against the influenza virus, parents ranked vaccination (56%) almost equally with taking vitamins (58%) and dressing appropriately for the weather (55%).

“Along with all the things that parents know are important for helping keep their kids healthy—like washing hands and getting enough sleep—flu vaccination should be right up there, but this survey shows us that we still have a lot of educating to do,” says Anne Moscona MD, vice chair of pediatrics for research at Cornell University. “As a community, we need to do a better job spreading the word about how important a yearly flu vaccine can be in helping protect kids – and ourselves – from influenza.”