Influenza vaccination reduces the risk for laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated pediatric death by 65% among healthy children and 51% among children with high-risk medical conditions, researchers reported. However, among documented pediatric deaths from influenza, only one in four children had been vaccinated.
“Since 2004, when influenza-associated deaths among children aged younger than 18 years became nationally notifiable, reported numbers of deaths have ranged from 37 in the 2011-2012 season to 358 during the 2009 pandemic,” Brendan Flannery, PhD, an epidemiologist from the Influenza Division at the CDC, and colleagues wrote. “Surveillance for pediatric deaths has contributed to identification of groups at high risk of influenza-related mortality, such as children with neurologic conditions, and undocumented fatal illness among children with and without underlying high-risk medical conditions.”
Flannery and colleagues conducted a case-cohort analysis to assess the impact of vaccination on influenza-related pediatric deaths in the United States using data collected from national surveys and insurance claims.
They identified 348 laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated deaths among children aged 6 months to 17 years between July 2010 and June 2014. Among fatalities in which the child’s vaccination status was known (n = 291), slightly more than one-quarter (26%) were vaccinated before the onset of influenza, and the average vaccination coverage in survey cohorts was 48%.
According to the researchers, there were 153 deaths among high-risk children, and only 31% were vaccinated. Vaccine effectiveness among these children was lower than among those without high-risk conditions (51% vs. 65%).
“Despite high prevalence — 53% — of underlying conditions that increase risk of severe influenza-related complications, only one in four children who died with laboratory-confirmed influenza had been vaccinated,” Flannery and colleagues wrote. – by Katherine Bortz
- Flannery B, et al. Pediatrics. 2017. doi:10.1542/peds.2016-4244
Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.