Research finds flu shot lowers hospitalization risk for children

Canadian organization Public Health Ontario and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences have published new research underscoring the ability of the flu vaccine to reduce hospitalization risk in children. The study found that fully vaccinated children’s risk of flu-related hospitalization decrease 60% and that partially vaccinated children’s risk decreasing 39%.

“Influenza can cause serious illness, especially in young children, but there hasn’t been a lot of research that has examined the magnitude of the influenza vaccine’s effectiveness at preventing kids from getting really sick and being hospitalized,” said Public Health Ontario applied immunization research and evalition scientist and ICES senior scientist Jeff Kwong, who is the senior author of the paper published in the Nov. 17 issue of PLOS ONE.

“This research paper helps fill that gap by showing how effective the influenza vaccine can be at protecting young kids against serious complications from influenza infections,” Kwong said.

Public Health Ontario said researchers looked at almost 10,000 hospital records over four flu seasons in the province for children between ages 6 months to under 5 years who had a respiratory specimen tested for the flu. The researchers compared variations in flu diagnoses by age group and flu strain. Children ages 2 to 4 years who were fully vaccinated saw their risk drop 67%, with children ages 6 to 23 months seeing their risk decrease 48%.

“These results show that flu vaccines are effective at preventing influenza hospitalizations in young kids, and this extended to those who received their vaccination in two consecutive seasons. This contributes to the evidence that this group should be receiving their seasonal vaccine annually to prevent such serious outcomes,” study lead author Sarah Buchan said.

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