Study: Flu vaccination significantly decreases risk of pediatric flu death

Vaccinating children for influenza significantly reduces a child's risk of dying from the flu, according to new study published in the journal Pediatrics.

For the study, researchers investigated 358 laboratory-confirmed pediatric flu deaths that occurred from July 2010 through June 2014. Researchers were able to establish vaccination status for 291 of the cases. Influenza vaccination coverage information was obtained from two national surveys and a database of commercial insurance claims. Among the 291 cases, only 75 (26 percent) involved a child who'd been vaccinated for influenza.

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Through further analysis, researchers were able to determine flu vaccination reduced the likelihood of pediatric flu death in children with underlying health issues by 51 percent, and reduced the risk of death by 65 percent in healthy children.

"Every year CDC receives reports of children who died from the flu. This study tells us that we can prevent more of these deaths by vaccinating more," said Brendan Flannery, PhD, an epidemiologist in the CDC's Influenza Division and the study's lead author. "We looked at four seasons when we know from other studies that the vaccine prevented flu illness and we found consistent protection against flu deaths in children."

As of March 25, the CDC has received reports of 61 pediatric flu deaths for the 2016-2017 flu season.

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