Flu shot could have prevented nearly half of children’s deaths, CDC says

Parents who need a little extra incentive to get their kids a flu shot this year should take a look at a new report issued today by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The agency documented 115 pediatric deaths related to influenza over the past 12 months and found that at least half could have been prevented with a vaccine.

Only 23 percent of those children over six months of age who died—for whom vaccine information was available—had been given a flu vaccine. The others hadn’t been vaccinated. (14 percent of the children who died were infants under 6 months who can’t get the vaccine.)

Nearly half of the deaths were in children who weren’t at higher risk due to certain medical conditions like asthma, obesity, diabetes, or cerebral palsy.

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Since 2010, the CDC has been recommending that all children ages 6 months of age and older get immunized annually. “These findings underscore the importance of vaccinating children to prevent influenza virus infection and its potentially severe complications,” wrote the report authors.

Toddlers and older higher-risk children need to get a flu shot that contains an inactivated or dead form of the virus. Healthy children ages two to 18 can get a shot or a nasal spray vaccine that contains a live, attenuated form of the virus. Here’s where to get a flu shot near you.

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