CDC study reveals flu vaccine greatly reduces risk of admission to ICU for children


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a new study on Thursday that revealed a child's risk of hospitalization because of flu is reduced by 74 percent by receiving a flu vaccination.

The CDC said the study is the first to estimate vaccine effectiveness against admission to the pediatric intensive care unit. It recommended all children older than 6 months receive an annual flu vaccination.

"These study results underscore the importance of an annual flu vaccination, which can keep your child from ending up in the intensive care unit," Alicia Fry, a CDC Influenza Division medical officer, said. "It is extremely important that all children - especially children at high risk of flu complications - are protected from what can be a life-threatening illness."

Children with a high risk of flu-related complications include children younger than 5 years of age and children with chronic medical conditions including asthma, diabetes or developmental delays.

The study included 216 children between 6 months and 17 years of age who were admitted to pediatric intensive care units in the United States during the 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 flu season. Of the children reviewed, 18 percent had been fully vaccinated. Approximately 55 percent had underlying medical conditions.

Data revealed flu vaccination may not prevent illness, but does protect against flu-related complications and more serious outcomes.

"Because some people who get vaccinated may still get sick, it's important to remember to use our second line of defense against flu: antiviral drugs to treat flu illness," Fry said. "People at high risk of complications should seek treatment if they get a flu-like illness. Their doctors may prescribe antiviral drugs if it looks like they have influenza."