The number of children who died from the influenza virus rose by 22, bringing the total pediatric deaths to 84, according to the Centers for Disease and Prevention (CDC) weekly report released on Friday.
But those numbers reveal more about the yearly, ever-changing virus and pediatric deaths.
The WebMD website reported that of 63 confirmed pediatric deaths from the flu, the CDC had medical histories on 56 of them.
Of the 54 kids who were old enough to get the flu vaccine, only 14 — or 26% — had gotten at least one dose, according to a flu update published today in the CDC journal Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
About half of the children who died had underlying medical conditions that made them more vulnerable to severe complications from the flu, and 60% had been admitted to the hospital before they died.
In previous flu seasons, as many as 85% of children who died after getting the flu had not been vaccinated.
WebMD noted that the children ranged in age from 2 months to 17 years.
Ironically, in a separate study released by the CDC on Friday, the vaccine has proved more effective in children than adults, reducing their chances of the need to see a doctor for severe symptoms by more than half, according to WebMD.
“That really tells you that we could have cut those deaths significantly if more of those kids had been vaccinated,” Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), said in the WebMD articles.
Still, reports that, overall, the vaccine is only 36 percent effective for adults has led to some parents skipping it for their children with tragic results.
The good news is that because it is only half way through the flu season it is not too late to vaccinate children who are six months old or older, according to the CDC.
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