CDC: 90 percent of children who died from flu last year had not been vaccinated
A new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that of the more than 100 children who died during last year’s flu season, over 90 percent had not received the vaccine.
Among children between the ages of 6 months and 17 years, white children had the lowest percentage of flu vaccination coverage at 55 percent. Black children fared slightly better, but were still only vaccinated at a 57 percent rate, far below the rates of their Native American (65 percent), Hispanic (66 percent), and Asian American (70) counterparts.
At the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases’ annual gathering, CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden and other health officials discussed plans for how to prevent such deaths during the 2014-15 flu season.
The CDC possesses 150 millions doses, and new laws require that health insurance cover 100 percent of the cost of vaccination. Moreover, those who claim an allergy to needles can choose to have the vaccine administered via nasal spray, as well as a new “needle-free” method that propels the vaccine through the skin.
Children between the ages of 2 and 8 should receive the nasal spray vaccine, the CDC said, both because of the common fear of needles, and because it has proven more effective for this age group.
“Flu hit young and middle-aged adults hard last year and just over 100 children died,” Vanderbilt University’s Dr. William Schaffner told NBC News. “There’s simply no reason to take that risk.”
“Influenza vaccines are safe, plentiful and we have more vaccine options than ever before — at least one is right for everyone,” he continued.
However, given the likely severity of the strain of flu in the 2014-15 season, “people should not wait to get vaccinated if their first choice is not available.”
The CDC recommends vaccinating in October, as the body requires two weeks after vaccination to begin to produce antibodies. The peak of flu season is predicted to begin in late November this year, making October vaccinations — and the protections they afford — all the more significant.