The lives of 115 children, who died between September 1, 2010 and August 31, 2011, could have been saved if the children had been given influenza vaccine, says the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
If you have a child who is below 5 years and is not vaccinated yet, you should get it done as soon as possible as more than four out of five kids who died of influenza had not been vaccinated, the agency said.
However, what became a major concern for the parents is that 23 percent of the kids who died had been vaccinated. Half of them had been healthy and had not been diagnosed with any high-risk medical conditions that had made them vulnerable to flu complications. But the researchers believe the reason for the death of the vaccinated children could have been some underlying diseases that the children had been suffering from.
The influenza vaccine prevents the children from flu, but any underlying disease erodes their immune system and makes them susceptible to the flu. Nineteen percent of the kids who died of flu had been suffering from underlying lung diseases like asthma.
Of 57 children, with medical conditions, almost 50 percent of them had a neurological disorder, 30 percent had pulmonary diseases, 25 percent had genetic disorder and 19 percent had heart diseases.
Of the 94 children, who had been hospitalized and eventually died with flu symptoms, only half received antiviral drugs.
It's vital that children get vaccinated, said Dr. Lyn Finelli, chief of the CDC's Surveillance and Outbreak Response Team.
We know the flu vaccine isn't 100 percent effective, especially not in children with high risk medical conditions. That's why it's essential that these two medical tools be fully utilized. Vaccinate first; then use influenza anti-viral drugs as a second line of defense against the flu. Right now we aren't fully using the medical tools at our disposal to prevent flu illnesses and deaths in children, said Dr Lyn.
The influenza vaccine prevents the flu, said Tom Skinner, a spokesman for the CDC. And if someone does come down with the flu, the vaccine can help avoid serious complications.
In the two articles published in the Sept. 16 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, it is mentioned that Influenza-associated pediatric mortality has been a significant condition in the U.S. since October 2004.
Researchers found 46 percent of the children who died were below 5 years and 29 percent were below 2. The report underscores the fact that young age is itself a risk factor, a CDC news release notes.