Flu Shots Save Children’s Lives

If all children got an annual influenza vaccine, 65 percent of flu-related children deaths could be prevented


The yearly flu shot could prevent most flu-related deaths among children and teenagers, a new U.S. government study estimates.

The annual influenza vaccination for children is recommended by the Centers of Disease and Control (CDC) to reduce adverse health impacts of influenza.

Though uncommon, influenza-associated deaths among children occur annually.

From 1976 to 2007, influenza was estimated to account for >100 deaths annually among children and adolescents. From July 2010 through June 2014, 358 laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated pediatric deaths were reported.

Researchers found that about 75 percent of the children who died of flu complications between 2010 and 2014 were unvaccinated.

This study reported that if all children got an annual influenza shot, 65 percent of those deaths could be prevented. Moreover, among children with high-risk medical conditions, the flu vaccine could reduce the risk of death by 50 percent.

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In the United States, the flu season typically runs from October through April.

Influenza viruses cause the flu. The illness infects the nose, throat, and lungs and can lead to death. The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine to protect against this contagious illness.

Flu vaccine is produced by private manufacturers, so supply depends on manufacturers. In past years, manufacturers who produced a flu vaccine included Sanofi Pasteur, GlaxoSmithKline, and Protein Sciences.

The 2016/ 2017 season's flu vaccine protects against viruses that research indicates will be most common during the season. This includes an influenza A (H1N1) virus, an influenza A (H3N2) virus, and one or two influenza B viruses, depending on the flu vaccine.

Information about flu vaccine supply is available here.

The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The authors of this research did not disclose any conflicts of interest: Brendan Flannery, PhD, Sue B. Reynolds, PhD, Lenee Blanton, MPH, Tammy A. Santibanez, Phd, Alissa O’Halloran, MSPH, Peng-Jun Lu, MD, PhD, Jufu Chen, PhD, Ivo M. Foppa, MD, PhD, Paul Gargiullo, PhD, Joseph Bresee, MD, James A. Singleton, PhDb, and Alicia M. Fry, MD.