The CDC looked at one flu season — 2010-2011 — and found that, of the 115 pediatric deaths due to influenza in the United States:
49% had no known Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP)–defined* high-risk medical conditions.
You read that right. Almost half of the pediatric deaths from the flu in 2010-2011 (115 deaths reported) were in children who had NO risk factors. Of these otherwise healthy children who died:
17 (23%) had been fully vaccinated.
And the causes of death?
The most frequent complications reported were radiographically confirmed pneumonia (62%), shock or sepsis (40%), and acute respiratory distress syndrome (34%). Encephalopathy or encephalitis was reported in 12 children (14%).
Another CDC study over a longer period of time revealed similar results:
“During the 2004-2012 influenza seasons, almost half the children who died had been previously healthy,” said Karen K. Wong, MD.
The median age at death was 7. About a third of the children died in the emergency department or outside the hospital, the researchers found.
“Children with and without underlying medical conditions can die from influenza, and death can occur rapidly,” Wong said. “Caregivers should be aware of early warning signs of severe influenza virus infection in children— including labored breathing, decreased fluid intake or urination, drowsiness or a lack of interaction— and should seek medical attention for them quickly.”
The takeaway message:
[P]revention is always better than treatment, and health experts agree that annual flu vaccination is the best protection. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends a flu vaccine for all children ages 6 months to 18 years old.
- Children die every year from influenza. Many (half) have no risk factors.
- Getting the flu vaccine is not completely protective for some children, even if they don’t have any risk factors.
- Most healthy children (with no risk factors) who die from the flu are not immunized against it. They do not get a flu vaccine.
- Children are exposed every day to influenza — at home, at school, in the community — from people who do not get flu shots and get sick with the flu.
A flu vaccine protects the one who gets it, but also everyone they come in contact with. Giving your child a flu vaccine protects them, but also protects their parents, their grandparents, their siblings, their classmates, their teachers, their pediatrician — pretty much everyone they come in contact with. It protects people with risk factors and those without.
Our offices have plenty of flu vaccine for you and your children. Call us, please, to get one. It’s already November, so please don’t delay.
I am not making this up. These are facts. Flu vaccines are safe and effective. That is also a fact. What little profit a physician’s office may make from administering flu vaccine (it’s not much) is eliminated by lower volumes of sick patients in our office during flu season. There is nothing in it for me except to protect you and your family (and me and my family) during this and every flu season.