Perhaps you thought that the recently finished flu season was mild. You would be mistaken. From the CDC:
For the 2012–13 influenza season, 149 laboratory-confirmed, influenza-associated pediatric deaths were reported. These deaths were reported from 38 states. The states with the greatest numbers of deaths were Texas (18), New York (14), and Florida (eight). The deaths included 11 children aged <6 months, 20 aged 6–23 months, 20 aged 2–4 years, 52 aged 5–11 years, and 46 aged 12–17 years.
Steven Reinberg adds some perspective:
The flu season started in September, which is unusually early, and peaked at the end of December, which is also unusual, Siegel said.
Flu season typically begins in December and peaks in late January or February.
Texas, New York and Florida had the most reported pediatric deaths. Except for the 2009-10 H1N1 flu pandemic, which killed at least 348 children, the past flu season was the deadliest since the CDC began collecting data on child flu deaths, according to the report, published in the June 14 issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
My emphasis above. Children don’t need to die this way. About influenza vaccine, Reinberg adds:
The flu vaccine was well matched to the circulating strains, but less effective than health officials had hoped. In January, the CDC reported that the vaccine was about 60 percent effective, which meant it offered “moderate” protection from the flu.
Siegel said even a moderately effective vaccine is better than not getting vaccinated at all because flu symptoms will be milder, with a lower chance of complications.
I know it’s only June, but parents should already be thinking about getting this year’s flu vaccine. We usually begin immunizing against influenza in August, and we will send all our families an email reminder at the end of the summer to schedule a time during our many “flu clinics” to come into the office and get a flu vaccine.
More on influenza on The PediaBlog here.