September 16, 2011
Last Flu Season Saw 115 Deaths In Children And Teens
Flu shots for children as young as six months old are being recommended by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“It´s vital that children get vaccinated,” Dr. Lyn Finelli, chief of the CDC´s Surveillance and Outbreak Response Team said in a statement to Reuters.
Health officials claim that while childhood deaths from the flu are extremely rare, a current influenza vaccination would have likely saved the lives of these children.
115 US children and teens died from influenza last flu season and had no other high-risk medical conditions that would have made them more susceptible to flu complications.
In CDC´s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, researchers also noted that of the 94 children who died in the hospital of flu-related causes last flu season, antiviral drugs had been prescribed to only about half of those children while sick.
Although healthy children´s bodies can fight the flu naturally, being young is a risk factor for complications from the virus.
“Immunization is essential,” Dr. Lewis Goldfrank, the chairman of emergency medicine at New York University Langone Medical Center, told ABC World News reporter Mikaela Conley.
“The fact that we have access to vaccine is a great privilege and opportunity for all. Influenza is preventable, and as these children unfortunately demonstrate, it can be a lethal disease for young children even if they are not previously shown to have serious co-morbidities,” Goldfrank added
The CDC reports that this year´s vaccine protects against H1N1 swine flu and two other flu strains called H3N2 and influenza B and are approved for anyone older than 6 months whether healthy or living with chronic medical conditions. The CDC strongly urges that people receive vaccine a every year, as soon as it becomes available.
Rebutting stories of some of possible side effects of vaccination, such as associations with autism and Alzheimer´s, Allison Aiello, associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Michigan School of Public Health tells Conley, “The vaccine is very safe and effective. There is a myth that the vaccine causes individuals to get influenza. This is not true and side effects of the vaccine are very rare.”
“The most common side effect is simply soreness at the site of injection. Benefits greatly outweigh any risks associated with the vaccine.”
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