Unvaccinated children more likely to die from flu, study suggests

Tricia Chan
A U.S. study suggests children who receive the flu vaccine are at a lower risk of dying from the flu. Photo from AP.

A study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control found the majority of children who died from the flu between the ages of six months to 17 years old had not been vaccinated against it.

The paper titled “Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness Against Pediatric Deaths: 2010-2014” was published this month in the journal Pediatrics. Researchers found that in the 291 cases they looked at, only about a quarter of the patients who died had been vaccinated against the flu.

The study also discovered that 153 children who died from the flu had some underlying health problems, such as asthma, blood disorders or neurological problems. Researchers found that even though these children may have been at a higher risk to contract the flu, only 31 per cent of them had been vaccinated.

“This study highlights the importance of annual influenza vaccination for children, especially those with underlying high-risk medical conditions,” the paper’s authors wrote.

According to the study, the vaccine showed itself effective in 65 per cent of cases involving healthy children, while children with “high risk” conditions experienced a vaccine effectiveness rate of 51 per cent, a statistic the researchers note as “significant.”

In their findings, researchers assert that children who receive the flu vaccine are at a lower risk of dying from the flu.

“Influenza vaccination was associated with reduced risk of laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated pediatric death,” the authors concluded. “Increasing influenza vaccination could prevent influenza-associated deaths among children and adolescents.”