The survey, conducted by the Canada West Foundation, found that 63% of parents intend to get their children vaccinated against the disease.
A government-sponsored survey conducted by the Canada West Foundation, a Canadian think tank, reveals that two-thirds of parents in the city of Toronto are certain or somewhat likely to get their young children vaccinated against a new contagious strain of flu that has caused more than half of deaths since last year in the United States.
“While we know a relatively small share of children are immunized, vaccination levels of almost 75% are more than sufficient to protect children against the new flu strain,” said Michael J. Brady, executive director of the Centre for Vaccine Safety and Policy at the University of Toronto.
He added that “with the right measures, the risk is slight to moderate,” and called on the federal government to provide funding for parents who were unable to pay for their children’s vaccines.
The new strain of flu, called CoVID-19, is one of the most virulent strains circulating, reaching 79% of Canadians last week, which is “alarmingly high,” according to the Canadian Press. Despite having only a 10% transmission rate, the deadlier virus has sent some people to the hospital.
The earlier strain of the flu, known as H3N2, started circulating last year in Canada and abroad, then caused 70% of U.S. flu deaths. Those cases were never an issue in Canada, where there were no deaths. The new virus has caused at least 300 U.S. deaths, including pregnant women and the elderly.
Brady noted the strain is not associated with serious, fatal complications but it can cause severe illness in children and particularly in infants and children who are less fully developed, which usually makes them more vulnerable.
Nearly all of the pediatric deaths this year in the United States, for example, have involved infants and children younger than 6 months old, the Los Angeles Times reported. The pediatric deaths are, however, not covered by public health insurance and are covered by individual health plans, according to the Times.
Public health officials have been recommending that healthy children be vaccinated against the flu because the real transmission of the virus is through the respiratory tract, not the bloodstream. But, they say, it is also up to parents to get their children immunized to reduce the risk of disease.
The Canadian survey, conducted by Ipsos, also found that a slightly higher percentage of parents in other Canadian provinces (64%) also intend to get their children vaccinated against the new strain of flu.
California, Virginia and Georgia have declared a public health emergency because of the new strain of flu. Public health officials in Texas reported some illnesses caused by the new strain of flu, but did not report any deaths. Florida was only reporting two hospitalizations among hospitalized people with flu-like symptoms, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that all people 6 months and older get a flu vaccine. CDC officials said those age 65 and older, people with chronic medical conditions, pregnant women and health care workers were “most vulnerable” to serious complications from the new strain of flu.
“Additional steps may be needed this season to ensure that pregnant women, health care workers and seniors are protected from these infections,” said CDC Deputy Director Anne Schuchat.