There is one question that few parents or pediatricians will ever likely be able to answer well. Why do kids die with the flu in this age of readily available flu vaccines?
Oh, I’m sure that everyone has heard dozens of reasons, from the idea that flu vaccines don’t work to parents just aren’t vaccinating their kids, but in reality, there is no good answer that fits all situations, except to know that the flu is deadly.
Why Do Kids Die With the Flu?
The biggest misconception that most people have about pediatric flu deaths is that all kids who die with the flu must have some underlying medical condition, like diabetes, asthma, immune system problems, or a heart condition.
That’s not true.
Around half of the kids who die with the flu have no underlying risk factors or medical conditions. They were otherwise healthy before they got sick with the flu.
But it is only younger kids that die with the flu, right?
Kids of all ages die with the flu, from infants and toddlers to teens.
And surprisingly, they often die quickly.
Most kids die within two or three days of getting their first flu symptoms.
That’s likely why many die before they can even be admitted to the hospital for treatment.
But they are all unvaccinated, right?
Although most are unvaccinated, some vaccinated kids do still die.
“This report summarizes the 115 cases of influenza-associated pediatric mortality reported to CDC that occurred from September 1, 2010, through August 31, 2011. Deaths occurred in 33 states. Nearly half of the deaths (46%) occurred in children aged <5 years. Of the children who died, 49% had no known Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP)–defined* high-risk medical conditions, and 35% died at home or in the emergency department. Of the 74 children aged ≥6 months for whom vaccination data were available, 17 (23%) had been fully vaccinated.”Influenza-Associated Pediatric Deaths — United States, September 2010–August 2011
Still, studies have shown that getting a flu vaccine can reduce a child’s risk of dying with the flu by half if they have an underlying high-risk medical condition and even more (65 percent) if they are otherwise healthy.
And since they are safe, there is no good reason to not get vaccinated and protected each year.
More on Pediatric Flu Deaths
- I’m Not Anti-Vaccine, I Just Don’t Believe in Flu Shots
- What Are the Benefits of the Flu Shot?
- Are Flu Deaths Exaggerated?
- Were More Than Half of the Kids with Severe or Fatal Influenza in California Last Year Vaccinated?
- Are Vaccinated Children Dying from the Flu?
- Updated Recommendations to Prevent and Control the Flu from the CDC
- Warning Signs of a Severe Case of the Flu
- Treating the Flu and Hard to Control Flu Symptoms
- Ask the Experts about Influenza Vaccines
- Family Stories – Families Fighting Flu
- Spitting on the graves of children lost to influenza
- Influenza Deaths
- CDC – Influenza Associated Pediatric Mortality
- CDC – Disease Burden of Influenza
- MMWR – Estimates of Deaths Associated with Seasonal Influenza — United States, 1976–2007
- Study – Deaths averted by influenza vaccination in the U.S. during the seasons 2005/06 through 2013/14.
- MMWR – Influenza-Associated Pediatric Deaths — United States, September 2010–August 2011
- Study – Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness Against Pediatric Deaths: 2010-2014.
- Study – Influenza-Associated Pediatric Deaths in the United States, 2010-2016.
- MMWR – Surveillance for Pediatric Deaths Associated with 2009 Pandemic Influenza A (H1N1) Virus Infection — United States, April–August 2009
- MMWR – Severe Morbidity and Mortality Associated with Influenza in Children and Young Adults — Michigan, 2003