HealthDay News — Children with neurological disorders such as epilepsy or cerebral palsy have a higher risk of complications from the flu, but are no more likely to get vaccinated than other children, according to a study conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The researchers conducted a nationwide survey of 2,138 parents of children with at least one high-risk condition of any kind. This included 1,143 parents of children with at least one neurological disorder and 516 parents of children with more than one neurological disorder. Overall, 47% of the parents said their children had received or were scheduled to receive seasonal flu vaccine. The rate was only slightly higher — 50% — among parents of children with neurological disorders.

Thirty-eight percent of the parents who did not have their children vaccinated against flu said they had concerns about how the vaccine would affect their child. One-third said they had concerns about the safety of the vaccine. The researchers also surveyed 412 doctors and found that three-quarters were aware that children with cerebral palsy were at increased risk for flu complications, but the awareness of increased risk was lower for epilepsy (51%) and intellectual disability (46%).

“Our research shows that influenza vaccination in children with neurological or neurodevelopmental disorders is comparable to vaccination in healthy children — but both rates are suboptimal,” study coauthor Michael Smith, MD, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at the University of Louisville School of Medicine in Kentucky, said in a university news release. “More education about the need for annual influenza vaccination is needed, both for parents and health care providers.”


  1. Smith M et al. Vaccine. 2015; doi:10.1016/j.vaccine.2015.03.050.