ATLANTA — An early look at this season’s reports indicates that about 90% of flu-related pediatric deaths occurred in children who had not received a flu vaccination this season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Friday.
The number of influenza-associated pediatric deaths reported to the CDC during the current season surpassed 100 as an additional 6 deaths were reported in FluView last week. To date, this brings the total number of influenza-associated pediatric deaths reported to the CDC to 105 for the 2012-2013 season.
The review also indicated that 60% of deaths occurred in children who were at high risk of developing serious flu-related complications. The proportions of pediatric deaths occurring in children who were unvaccinated and those who had high-risk conditions are consistent with what has been seen in previous seasons.
According to CDC survey data, only about 40% of children had received a 2012-2013 influenza vaccine by mid-November of 2012. The final estimated vaccination rate among children during the 2011-2012 season was 52%.
Across all age groups, this season’s vaccine was found to be about 60% effective in preventing medically attended influenza illness. This number was lower among people 65 and older, but flu vaccination reduced a child’s risk of having to go to the doctor because of flu by more than 60%.
CDC recommends annual flu vaccination as the first and best step in preventing influenza. CDC recommends antiviral drugs as a second line of defense against flu for those people who are seriously ill and those who are at high risk of flu complications, even if they have been vaccinated.