Study shows children getting influenza vaccinations earlier in the season

Children have been getting more influenza vaccinations and earlier in the season in recent years, but parents have not responded to the efforts to extend vaccination season into January and February, a new study has revealed.

The study, conducted by researchers from MedImmune, Inc., analyzed millions of health insurance claims for four flu seasons starting in 2006-07, CIDRAP News reports. Researchers found that pediatric immunizations rose by 38 percent over that time, beginning one to two weeks earlier each season.

After increasing slightly in December of each year, vaccinations declined sharply and continued to drop through the end of March, CIDRAP News reports.

The study was meant to examine pediatric flu immunization trends after the CDC changed government recommendations for pediatric vaccinations in 2006. In 2006, the committee expanded the target flu shot age group from six to 23 months to six to 59 months. In 2008, the CDC added five to 18 year olds.

"Our results demonstrate that recent recommendations to begin vaccination as soon as vaccine is available are being adopted by office-based providers," the report said, according to CIDRAP News. The report also added that vaccine manufacturers have started to ship doses of the vaccine in August or even late July.

The study concluded that more research is needed to determine why the vaccination volume was low in the later months of the season. In each season, 85 percent of all doses were given by the first week of January.