Most children who die from the flu are not vaccinated.
That’s according to a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, published online earlier this month in Pediatrics. The article said this is the first study of its kind showing that flu vaccination significantly reduces a child’s risk of dying from influenza.
According to the CDC news release: “The study, which looked at data from four flu seasons between 2010 and 2014, found that flu vaccination reduced the risk of flu-associated death by half (51 percent) among children with underlying high-risk medical conditions and by nearly two-thirds (65 percent) among healthy children. The study findings underscore the importance of the recommendation by CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics that all children 6 months and older get an annual flu vaccine.”
“Every year, the CDC receives reports of children who died from the flu,” said lead author and CDC epidemiologist Dr. Brendan Flannery. “This study tells us that we can prevent more of these deaths by vaccinating more. We looked at four seasons when we know from other studies that the vaccine prevented flu illness, and we found consistent protection against flu deaths in children.”
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Dr. Nipunie Rajapakse, a Mayo Clinic pediatric infectious diseases specialist who was not involved with the study, said, “It shows that this protective effect is seen in both children who have medical conditions that would increase their risk of dying from the flu, such as underlying heart or lung disease, but importantly that this benefit extends to healthy children as well.
“It is impossible to predict which healthy children will develop a mild flu illness with maybe some fever, cough, and runny nose, and which child will develop more severe illness and need to be admitted to hospital or possibly die from influenza infection,” she said. “This is why it is important that all children over 6 months of age get vaccinated every year.”
Rajapakse said the types of influenza covered in the flu vaccine vary each year based on which viruses are predicted to be circulating during the flu season.
“This is why it is important to get vaccinated every year,” she said. “The flu vaccine is safe and one of the best strategies we have to prevent influenza infection.”
Common signs and symptoms of the flu include:
▪ Fever higher than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit
▪ Aching muscles, especially in the back, arms and legs
▪ Chills and sweats
▪ Dry, persistent cough
▪ Fatigue and weakness
▪ Nasal congestion
▪ Sore throat