Let’s get those flu shots! Not just adults, kids too !
MedlinePlus, a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health reports that even healthy children can die from the flu in as little as three days after they get symptoms. The original research report, which points to the importance of getting kids flu shots, was published online on October 28th in Pediatrics.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that between 2004 and 2012, flu complications killed 830 children in the United States, many of whom were otherwise healthy.
“We found these influenza-related deaths can occur in children with and without medical conditions and in children of all ages, and that very few of these children have been vaccinated,” said lead author Dr. Karen Wong, a CDC medical epidemiologist.
“Parents don’t realize that flu can be fatal,” said Dr. Marcelo Laufer, a pediatric infectious diseases specialist at Miami Children’s Hospital.
Because flu can progress so quickly, prevention is really the best strategy, Wong said. “And that’s why we recommend every child 6 months or older get vaccinated every year,” she said.
Because an infant under 6 months of age can’t be given flu vaccine, Wong said it is vital that pregnant women get a flu shot to help protect their newborn, and that everyone likely to be near the baby also be vaccinated so they can’t pass flu to the infant.
Wong said children who get the flu need to be watched carefully. She recommends getting in touch with the child’s doctor when symptoms start.
Parents should take their child to the doctor or emergency department if they’re sicker than what one would expect with a common cold, he said.
“Parents should realize that influenza is much more than sniffles,” Laufer added. “A kid with influenza is a kid who is very sick, is a kid who is lethargic, has decreased appetite, is not drinking as much and not urinating as much in addition to other flu symptoms,” he said.
Flu causes an estimated 54,000 to 430,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 to 49,000 deaths each year in the United States, with infection rates highest among children, according to the CDC.
SOURCES: Karen Wong, M.D., M.P.H., medical epidemiologist, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Marcelo Laufer, M.D., pediatric infectious diseases specialist, Miami Children’s Hospital; November 2013, Pediatrics