To this day there are health care workers who debate the effectiveness and validity of the flu vaccine. The Joint Commission and Missouri Hospital Association have set a lofty goal that all health care workers be vaccinated for the flu unless there is either a religious or medical reason not to do so.
It’s important to remember that health care workers obtain the flu vaccine to not only protect themselves and their patients but their families as well. A new study by the CDC makes a strong case as to why we may want to establish a new goal to vaccinate all children.
Even healthy children can come down with a case of flu severe enough to kill them in a matter of days, according to a new report from researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Children who were in good health before contracting influenza seemed to progress from infection to death more rapidly than children with high-risk medical conditions, the researchers reported in a study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.
The finding is based on the first analysis of all flu deaths among children since the National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System began tracking such cases in October 2004. In the eight years through September 2012, there were 830 laboratory-confirmed deaths from flu.
In 794 of those cases, the researchers were able to check the patients’ medical histories. They found that 341 of those victims – 43 percent – did not have a medical condition that would have made them more vulnerable to influenza.
Public health officials take influenza seriously because it’s easy for people to reduce their risk of infection by getting flu shots. CDC officials reported last month that 43 percent of children weren’t vaccinated during the 2012-13 flu season, along with 58 percent of adults.
To put the 104 annual flu deaths into perspective, the CDC said there were 9,595 deaths among children ages 1 to 14 in 2010. Accidents, congenital malformations and cancer were among the leading causes of death. Researchers in the CDC’s Influenza Division and its Epidemic Intelligence Service discovered that between 2004 and 2012, the median age of fatal flu victims was 7. Slightly more than half of the victims – 53 percent – were boys.
Vaccinations save lives.