Monday, April 03, 2017
By Amy Norton HealthDay April 3, 2017, 11:18 AM
The yearly flu shot could prevent most flu-related deaths among children and teenagers, a new U.S. government study estimates.
Researchers found that about three-quarters of U.S. kids who died of flu complications between 2010 and 2014 were unvaccinated before they fell ill.
If all children got their yearly flu shot, 65 percent of those deaths could be prevented, the researchers estimated.
Kids who are perfectly healthy can become severely ill with the flu and develop complications such as pneumonia. But the risk is higher among children with certain medical conditions, including asthma, heart disease, diabetes, cystic fibrosis and sickle cell anemia.
Flannery’s team found that a flu shot can cut the risk of death among both healthy kids and those with “high-risk” medical conditions.
On average, the CDC team estimated, 65 percent of flu-related deaths could be prevented if all U.S. kids got their yearly flu shot. Among children with high-risk medical conditions, the vaccine could cut the risk of death in half.
Flannery agreed that some people believe the flu shot does not work. To some extent, he said, that’s due to uncertainty about what the flu is: Some people confuse it with the common cold, or even a stomach infection. If they fall ill with those infections after getting a flu shot, they think the vaccine didn’t work.
In addition, some parents worry about the vaccine’s safety, particularly if their child has a chronic health condition.
But, Flannery stressed, “the vaccine is recommended for children with high-risk medical conditions because it is safe.”
The reality, fortunately, is that any one child has a very low risk of dying from the flu, Offit said.
Flannery made the same point. But, he added, the flu vaccine can also prevent hospitalizations, time off from work for parents, and a whole lot of misery for kids.
In the United States, the flu season typically runs from October through April.