Flu Vaccines Can Save The Lives Of Children

A nurse prepares an injection of the influenza vaccine at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston Massachusetts

A nurse prepares an injection of the influenza vaccine at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston Massachusetts

The study was published Monday in the journal Pediatrics. "This study tells us that we can prevent more of these deaths by vaccinating more", researcher Brendan Flannery told NBC News. In the survey cohorts, the average vaccination coverage was 48%. "Though uncommon, influenza-associated deaths among children occur annually, with varying incidence depending on the severity of the influenza season".

Researchers with the Centers For Disease Control looked at 291 pediatric flu deaths between 2010 and 2014. Age was reported for 13,306 of those patients: 7.9 percent were younger than 5 years old; 30.4 percent were between 5 and 24 years old; 30.3 percent were between 25 and 64 years old; and 31.5 percent were 65 or older (see graphic below).

"People often don't consider the flu to be very serious", Flannery said.

Reported cases include children who received flu vaccinations this season, but were still infected, he added.

In addition, some parents worry about the vaccine's safety, particularly if their child has a chronic health condition.

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Despite that, many US children - even those with high-risk medical conditions - go unvaccinated. Last year, 59 people died from the flu in North Carolina. "Because of the higher risk of severe complications and influenza-associated death among children with underlying conditions, vaccination is especially important for these children". They studied the effects of lab-confirmed, influenza bases death cases, and vaccination status.

The study was the first ever conducted to investigate influenza or influenza-related deaths among children and adolescents.

It's recommended that everyone 6 months and older get an annual flu vaccine in the fall, and even though vaccination rates are low, doctors say this flu wasn't as bad as years past. CDC data shows that children don't necessarily die in droves from the flu each year - a few hundred at most - but researchers still wanted to understand why any child succumbs to the illness.

High-risk conditions as defined by the CDC's Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices included cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anemia, diabetes, congenital heart disease, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, or an asthma episode in the past 12 months. Pregnant women have a high risk of complications related to influenza, and they can safely receive a flu shot at any point during their pregnancy. Indeed, the shot does not offer 100 percent protection.

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