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April 04, 2017

Flu vaccine can prevent half of flu-related deaths in children, CDC study suggests

Study backs CDC-recommended flu shot for all children over 6 months

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention only recommends that all children 6 months of age and older receive an annual seasonal flu vaccine, but that advice might even save children's lives.

In a new study published in the journal Pediatrics, the CDC looked at the statistics on pediatric deaths linked to the flu between the 2010 and 2014 seasons, and found the majority of children who had died from flu-related deaths had not received the vaccination. 

It's the first study of its kind to show flu vaccination "significantly reduces" children’s risk of dying from the flu, the CDC notes. Findings suggest the vaccine reduces the risk of flu-associated death by 65 percent for healthy children.

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For children with underlying high-risk medical conditions, which includes asthma, heart disease, blood disorders and more, the flu shot reduced the risk of flu-related death by 51 percent, the study suggests.

“This study tells us that we can prevent more of these deaths by vaccinating more,” noted Brendan Flannery, Ph.D., lead author and epidemiologist in the CDC’s influenza division.

Flu season is typically considered October through May, and it usually peaks in February. According to the CDC, during the current flu season 61 pediatric deaths have been reported as of March 25, 2017.

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