Study: Flu Can Be Deadly – Even for Healthy Kids

Flu vaccine a must to protect children

sick child sleeping in bed

When most adults get the flu, they might need a few days of “couch time” for a full recovery.

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But with children, it can be different. When any child — even a healthy one — gets the flu, the results can be deadly. A new report presents even more compelling evidence of this.

This is why I urge all parents to get their children flu shots. To make it easier, many kids over 2 may get the nasal spray form of the vaccine.

Healthy kids at nearly as much risk

The numbers tell the story. A new study by the Centers for Disease Control recently published in the journal Pediatrics found about 40 percent of the 830 children who died from the flu during the study period (2004-2012) had no high-risk medical conditions.

These children didn’t have asthma or heart disease, which would have put them at more risk for flu complications. They were healthy kids before catching the flu.

Among the children who died, the average age was 7. Thirty-five percent of the kids who died after getting the flu never made it to the hospital.

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The study’s researchers concluded influenza can be fatal in children with or without risk factors, and their best defense is to be vaccinated. Children who have high-risk medical conditions should get the shot before flu season begins.

Even kids not in school should get vaccinated

It’s very important for kids who are 6 months to 2 years old to get the flu vaccination. These kids are the ones most likely to have complications.

Kids who are in school and daycare — pretty much most children from age 2 years and up — need to get the vaccination as well, because they’re the most exposed.

I’d add that all kids, even those who are home-schooled or not in daycare, should get the flu vaccine.

Home-schooling parents may not think their children have a lot of exposure, but they can be at risk just in their daily lives, going with mom or dad to the grocery store or the playground.

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So please, parents, play it safe by getting your kids the flu shot or spray.

5 Common Flu Vaccine Questions

 

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Emma Raizman, MD

Emma Raizman, MD, is a pediatrician at Cleveland Clinic Children's who enjoys working with families and children, from newborns to adolescents.
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