A new study of deaths in children from influenza analyzed over four flu seasons found that most deaths occurred in unvaccinated children. The study, “Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness Against Pediatric Deaths: 2010-2014,” to be published in the May 2017 issue of Pediatrics (April 3 online) analyzed 291 deaths of children between ages 6 months through 17 years.
About one-fourth (26%) of the children who died had been vaccinated against influenza before illness onset. Among 153 deaths of children with underlying high-risk medical conditions, 31% had been vaccinated. Vaccine-effectiveness was higher (65%) among children without high-risk medical conditions. Though uncommon, influenza-associated deaths among children occur annually, with varying incidence depending on the severity of the flu season. Since 2004, the number of influenza-associated deaths among children younger than age 18 has ranged from 37 in the 2011-2012 season to 358 during a 2009 pandemic. The study supports current recommendations for annual flu vaccination for all children age 6 months and older.
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