Flu Vaccine Saves Children's Lives
While kids who get a flu shot are not guaranteed absolute immunity from the virus, new research shows they are still less likely to die from the flu than those who are unvaccinated.
The new Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study was published in the journal Pediatrics, and shows the majority of children who died from the flu in recent years were not vaccinated.
"We've known about this for some time," said Dr. Brian Curtis, Director of Specialty Care Physician Practice for OSF Medical Group. "Both in children and adults, people who don't receive the flu vaccine do have a higher both of morbidity, which is getting ill and staying ill, and having complications and mortality - dying from the flu illness."
CDC researchers studied nearly 300 pediatric flu deaths between 2010 and 2014. Three-fourths of the children who died did not have the vaccine.
Doctors say unvaccinated children are more likely to have more severe influenza if they do get sick and are therefore more likely to die.
"It's frustrating as a physician when you are seeing children who have preventable illnesses that can be treated with a vaccine. We are seeing resurgence of mumps, we see resurgence of whooping cough, we've seen episodes of outbreaks of measles. This is just another avenue of that. This is a preventable illness. The vaccine is not 100% effective, however it offers some protections to everyone who gets it," said Dr. Curtis.
According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, this flu season four children in Illinois have died from the virus.
It's recommended that everyone six months and older get an annual flu vaccine. Dr. Curtis urges parents to speak with their child's physician.
"It's important to have a conversation with your doctor about getting vaccinated for any preventable illness," he said. "It will keep you healthier and the people around you and who you love healthier."