Flu and Pediatric Deaths

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Karen K. Wong, MD MPH
Community Interventions for Infection Control Unit
Division of Global Migration & Quarantine
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings of the study?

Dr. Wong: There were 830 pediatric influenza-associated deaths reported to CDC during the 2004–2005 through 2011–2012 seasons; deaths occurred in children of all ages, and 43% had no high-risk medical conditions. Of children 6 months of age or older whose vaccination status was known, only 16% had been fully vaccinated with seasonal influenza vaccine.

MedicalResearch.com:  Were any of the findings unexpected?

Dr. Wong: Some parents might not think of influenza as being a very serious illness; however, this study shows that even previously healthy children can have severe influenza complications. Also, most of the children died within a week of their first symptoms, emphasizing the importance of prevention, especially with annual influenza vaccination.

MedicalResearch.com:  What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Wong: Any child may be at risk for severe influenza complications, even if they are otherwise healthy, and children can get very sick very quickly. Getting vaccinated against influenza every year is the best way to protect your family. Speak to your healthcare provider about whether antiviral medications may be recommended if your child does show flu symptoms. Finally, everyday precautions like washing hands and covering coughs will also help protect your household against influenza and other viruses.

Citation:

Influenza-Associated Pediatric Deaths in the United States, 2004–2012

Karen K. Wong, Seema Jain, Lenee Blanton, Rosaline Dhara, Lynnette Brammer, Alicia M. Fry, and Lyn Finelli

Pediatrics peds.2013-1493; published ahead of print October 28, 2013, doi:10.1542/peds.2013-1493

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