Children who have been treated with alternative or complementary forms of medicine are less likely to receive a flu vaccine, a new study says.
While the exact reason behind this conclusion is unclear, it may be because those who provide such treatments are not likely to recommend getting vaccinated, the researchers add. It may also be possible that alternative medicine practitioners go as far as to advise parents not to have their kids immunized, Live Science reports.
William Bleser, lead author on the study and a researcher in health policy and administration at Pennsylvania State University, states that their study findings show that children who have been in contact with alternative medicine providers had lower odds of getting a flu vaccine.
The researchers looked at data on 9,000 American children between the ages of 4 and 17, who had taken part in the 2012 National Health Interview Survey, conducted annually by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The information showed that 8% of the children had used herbal supplements and similar therapies, 7% had undergone body-based therapy like chiropractic, 5% had used mind-body therapy like yoga and 4% had tried alternative medical systems such as acupuncture.
Out of all the children, 43% had received a flu vaccine shot in the previous year, and those who had undergone alternative practices were less likely to receive flu vaccines compared to children who had not experienced any complementary treatments.
More research is necessary to further look into why there is a decrease in immunization in such cases, the researchers state.
The study’s findings suggest that doctors and pediatricians who practice traditional medicine should ask parents if their children had engaged in alternative therapies in order to increase immunization rates.
There has been an increasing trend among parents to refuse their children immunization – a move that has alarmed health authorities as it jeopardizes overall public health, including outbreaks among kids.
The study was published in the journal Pediatrics.