Conn. flu rates decline after new vaccine requirement

Vaccination rates rose significantly and influenza rates dropped notably in children between the ages of six months and four years old in Connecticut after a day care vaccination requirement was instituted in 2011.

On January 1, 2011, all children between six months and 59 months of age enrolled in a licensed Connecticut day care were required to receive influenza vaccinations. The vaccination rates in the age group were 85 percent during the 2010-2011 influenza season, up from 54 percent in 2009-2010, ACEP News reports.

Emergency department visits for influenza and influenza-like illness dropped from 34 percent in 2008 to 30 percent in 2011.

Kimberley Yousey-Hindes, the influenza program coordinator at the Connecticut Emerging Infections Program at Yale University, reported the results at the International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases.

"When compared to the 2007-2008 season, among those hospitalized with influenza, the proportion of patients six months to four years decreased as well (13 percent vs. 10 percent)," Yousey-Hindes said, according to ACEP News.

Yousey-Hindes said that laboratory-confirmed influenza cases also decreased compared with 2007-2008 and that both declines were significant statistically.

The study used data from influenza reports to the state reportable disease database, the Connecticut Emergent Infections Programs' Influenza-Associated Hospitalization Surveillance system and the Connecticut Hospital Emergency Department Syndrome Surveillance System. An estimated 60 percent of children of preschool age receive non-parental care each week, typically in child care centers, suggesting mandatory vaccination of the children could decrease flu levels throughout the country.