The backlash in the U.S. against vaccines seen over the past decade seems to be dying down. Incidents such as the recent Mumps outbreak at Ohio State University have demonstrated just how dangerous anti-vaccination views are, though anti-vaccine fear mongering is still prevalent in the popular culture.
Despite criticism, the science behind vaccines is still marching forward. This week a new study by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention showed that flu vaccines are beneficial even to very young children.
The study, published today in the Journal of Infectious Diseases, shows that the flu vaccines can help cut a child’s risk of flu-related admission to a pediatric intensive care units by as much as 74%.
“These study results underscore the importance of an annual flu vaccination, which can keep your child from ending up in the intensive care unit,” said Dr. Alicia Fry, an influenza researcher at the CDC. “It is extremely important that all children – especially children at high risk of flu complications – are protected from what can be a life-threatening illness.”
The CDC recommends yearly flu vaccinations for all children six months old and older. This is especially true for children with conditions such as asthma or diabetes, who can often experience serious complications when coming down with the flu.
The study looked at over 200 children between age six months to 17 years admitted to 21 different pediatric intensive care units around the U.S. Only 18% of flu-related admissions to the facilities were for children who had received proper flu vaccinations. Over half of the children admitted had another medical condition that complicated their illness.
“Because some people who get vaccinated may still get sick, it’s important to remember to use our second line of defense against flu: antiviral drugs to treat flu illness,” said Fry. “People at high risk of complications should seek treatment if they get a flu-like illness. Their doctors may prescribe antiviral drugs if it looks like they have influenza.”