ATLANTA — The highest mortality rate regarding influenza-related pediatric death occurs most frequently in children younger than 2 years of age, with minimal vaccination coverage observed within this demographic, according to research published at the 2017 Epidemic Intelligence Service Conference.
“Flu is a serious disease and every year CDC receives reports of children who died from the flu,” Mei Shang, MBBS, MPH, from the Division of Scientific Education and Professional Development at the CDC, told Infectious Diseases in Children. “Looking at six years’ worth of data reinforces how important the flu vaccine is at preventing illness and saving lives.”
To depict influenza-associated pediatric deaths that occurred after the 2009 pandemic, Shang and colleagues analyzed data concerning pediatric deaths reported to CDC in children younger than 18 years of age with lab-confirmed influenza from the 2010-2011 season to the 2014-2015 season. Data examined included information on demographic characteristics, medical conditions, lab testing and clinical diagnosis.
Mortality rates were approximated through population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau. The characteristics of children who had preexisting conditions and those who did not were compared by the researchers.
Within the time frame examined, 675 influenza-related pediatric deaths occurred, with a median age of 6 years and an average annual incidence rate of 0.15 per 100,000 children. The highest rates of mortality were seen in children younger than 6 months (0.66) and children 6 to 23 months (0.33). Of those who died aged 6 months and older, only 22% were fully vaccinated.
Half of the children who died as a result of influenza did not have a preexisting condition. The average child in this demographic was younger (5 years), less likely to be vaccinated (17%), and were admitted to a hospital (48%). Although treatment was sought out, these children died 4 days quicker than those who had documented preexisting conditions (8 years; 27%; 77%; 7 days).
“Fewer than a quarter of the children who died and for whom vaccination was recommended actually had proof of vaccination,” Shang told Infectious Diseases in Children. “It is essential for clinicians to recommend children and the people close to them get vaccinated each year.” — by Katherine Bortz.
Shang M, et al. Abstract. Presented at: The Epidemic Intelligence Service Conference; April 24-27, 2017; Atlanta, GA.
Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.