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Parents Who Vaccinate Themselves Are More Likely to Get Shots for Their Kids

New research shows why moms and dads' general attitude on immunizations is so important.

Little girl getting a vaccine with her mom goodluz/Shutterstock
No one wants to go through the coldest months of the year risking that they'll come down with a dreaded disease, and yet, not everyone gets their flu shot. But parents who do are more likely to get their kids the vaccine — as well as other shots, according to a new study published online in the journal Pediatrics. Researchers landed on a pretty eye-opening stat: Kids of parents who got the flu shot were nearly three times more likely to get the vaccine themselves.

Furthermore, the flu shot-obtaining parents were also more likely to have their kids get other immunizations, like the HPV vaccine, which protects against several strains of the infection, which can lead to cervical cancer in women and penile cancer in men. 

Turns out, the vice-versa logic holds as well. In other words, parents who opted out of immunizing themselves against the flu were less likely to get their kids various shots.

Study lead researcher Steve Robison, from the Oregon Health Authority's Immunization Program in Portland, tells HealthDay.com that we're all better off when parents make sure their L.O.s get their flu shots. "In order to improve childhood immunization rates for diseases such as influenza, we also need to encourage parents to get immunizations for themselves," he said. "Immunization needs to be promoted for everyone in a family, starting with parents and adults."

This new study's findings underline just how much of a domino effect parents' attitudes around vaccines can have. In a statement, AAP President Dr. Fernando Stein emphasized how important it is to consider the big picture. "High immunization rates in your community provide a buffer of protection that makes it harder for diseases to break through," he said. "Vaccines are the best way to protect your own child from diseases, and they also keep communities healthy by protecting children who are too young to be vaccinated, or those who have compromised immune systems. Simply put, vaccines save lives." Power to parents!