Pediatric Studies Show the Flu's Deadly Danger, the Benefits of School Vaccinations



The risk of influenza-associated fatality for children, even those without underlying conditions, supports seasonal vaccines, researchers say. At the first IDWeek meeting, held in San Diego, scientists presented new data that supported the effectiveness of school-based vaccination programs for protecting students. One study found that 43 percent of influenza-related deaths occurred in children with no other health conditions, such as asthma or diabetes. The study, supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reviewed influenza-associated deaths among children under age 18. Between Aug. 1, 2004, and Sept. 1, 2012, there were 829 of these deaths, most associated with influenza A. Among 793 children with a known medical history, 341 had no high-risk conditions. Among the remaining cases, more than half had neurological disorders and nearly half had pulmonary disease. Another study assessed the impact of vaccine programs in Los Angeles-area elementary schools and found lower rates of flu and higher rates of attendance among schools with these programs. Dr. David Kimberlin, an IDWeek chair for the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society, said that these studies of influenza show why parents should be alert for signs of the flu and how communities can work together during the disease’s most active season. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends a flu vaccine for all children over age six months.

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