TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 27, 2016

CDC study: Vaccinations, early treatment keys to preventing pediatric flu deaths

The CDC urged parents to have children ages six months and older vaccinated for influenza and to expedite medical care to children who develop flu-like symptoms in a study that examined flu-related pediatric deaths and was published on Monday in the journal Pediatrics.

The CDC analyzed flu-related deaths from 2004 to 2012 in children younger than 18-years-old. The study found that flu-related deaths affected both healthy children and those with one or more underlying health conditions. Lack of both preventative care and fast treatment were apparent in many of deaths.

Most deaths were reported in children who had not received a seasonal flu vaccine, which reinforced the CDC's recommendation to have children older than 6 months vaccinated.

The importance of prompt medical care for children who experience flu symptoms was also a major takeaway as one-third of children died in their first three days of illness. More than one-third of children died either at home or on their way to a hospital.

"This highlights the importance of parents taking flu illness just as seriously in healthy children as children who are more medically fragile due to a high-risk condition," the CDC said. "The overall message is parents should seek prompt medical care for all children with flu symptoms."

The flu virus claimed the most pediatric lives from 2009 to 2010 due to the H1N1 pandemic virus. The fewest deaths during the study period were reported in the following flu season from 2011 to 2012.