Getting your child vaccinated against the flu could substantially cut his or her chances of ending up in the hospital with a flu-related illness, according to a new study.
Canadian researchers analyzed the medical records of nearly 10,000 children, ages 6 months to under 5 years, over the four flu seasons between 2010 and 2014.
The results of the study showed that children vaccinated against the flu, ages 2 to 4 years, had a 67 percent reduced risk of hospitalization due to the flu. Children 6 months to 23 months had a 48 percent reduced risk.
Even children with only a partial vaccination (one dose of flu vaccine during their first flu season) still had a lower risk of flu-related hospitalization.
"Influenza can cause serious illness, especially in young children, but there hasn't been a lot of research that has examined the magnitude of the influenza vaccine's effectiveness at preventing kids from getting really sick and being hospitalized," said study senior author Jeff Kwong, a scientist at Public Health Ontario.
"This research paper helps fill that gap by showing how effective the influenza vaccine can be at protecting young kids against serious complications from influenza infections," Kwong said in an agency news release.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older get a seasonal flu vaccine.
Children, particularly younger than 5 years old, are at a higher risk for serious flu-related complications, the CDC warns.
The flu season in the U.S., on an average, begins in October and is in high gear during December and January; peaking in February. It can last as late as May.
The CDC has issued a few changes in the 2017-2018 flu-season:
The recommendation to not use the nasal spray flu vaccine (LAIV) was renewed for the 2017-2018 season. Only injectable flu shots are recommended for use again this season.
Flu vaccines have been updated to better match circulating viruses (the influenza A(H1N1) component was updated). Women may receive any licensed, recommended, and age-appropriate flu vaccine.
The age recommendation for “Flulaval Quadrivalent” has been changed from 3 years old and older to 6 months and older to be consistent with FDA-approved labeling.
Other changes in the 2017-2018 flu-season recommendations and vaccines can be found at https://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/season/flu-season-2017-2018.htm.
Some children 6 months through 8 years of age will require two doses of flu vaccine for adequate protection from flu. Children in this age group who are getting vaccinated for the first time will need two doses of flu vaccine, spaced at least 28 days apart. Children who have only received one dose in their lifetime also need two doses. Your child’s doctor or other health care professional can tell you if your child needs two doses of flu vaccine.
To protect children younger than 6 months old from getting the flu, the people around them should be vaccinated. Also, studies have shown that flu vaccination of the mother during pregnancy can protect the baby after birth from flu infection for several months.
Story sources: Robert Preidt, https://consumer.healthday.com/infectious-disease-information-21/flu-news-314/flu-shot-could-help-your-kid-avoid-hospital-728509.html