How did you and your family weather the 2017-18 influenza season? One can only imagine that 171 families in the United States are still in mourning over the loss of a child from this predictably severe and vaccine-preventable infectious disease. Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the number of pediatric deaths from influenza tied a record:

This number matches the 2012-2013 season, which previously set the record for the highest number of flu-related deaths in children reported during a single flu season (excluding pandemics).

 

This graphic from the CDC illustrates the carnage. By gender, more girls (94) died from influenza than boys (77) during the season just concluded. By age:

> 39 were 12-17 years old (23%)

> 63 were 5-11 years old (37%)

> 29 were 2-4 years old (17%)

> 28 were 6-23 months old (16%)

> 12 were 0-5 months old (7%)

 

Half of the children who died had no known chronic medical condition that would have made influenza a more dangerous situation for them; the other half did have higher risks due to chronic conditions. About 60% of these children died after admission to the hospital; 40% died at home or in the ER.

*80% of these deaths from influenza occurred in children who had not received a flu vaccination this season.

Getting a flu vaccine doesn’t guarantee that you or a child won’t get sick or die from complications of influenza. But peer-reviewed science makes the case that flu vaccine saves lives — maybe your own someday:

Results of this study suggest that vaccination reduced the risk of influenza-associated death among children and adolescents and add to the evidence of benefits of influenza vaccination for children. Annual vaccination is an important strategy to prevent influenza and influenza-associated complications and deaths. These results support current recommendations for annual influenza vaccination for all children ≥6 months of age.

 

 

(Image: CDC — cdc.gov/flu/weekly/index)

 

UPDATE 6/11/18: On Friday, the CDC announced this dismal news:

June 8, 2018 — The CDC is reporting an additional pediatric flu-related death this week, bringing the total number this season to 172. This number exceeds the 2012-2013 season, which previously set the record for the highest number of flu-related deaths in children reported during a single flu season (excluding pandemics). Approximately 80% of these deaths occurred in children who had not received a flu vaccination this season. CDC recommends an annual flu vaccine for everyone 6 months and older. These deaths are a somber reminder of the importance of flu vaccination and the potential seriousness of flu.