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Healthy Children can Still Die from the Flu, Report Reminds

Update Date: Oct 28, 2013 03:55 PM EDT
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Even though the flu season has started, many individuals have yet to get vaccinated. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all people, especially people who are high-risk for complications from the flu, such as children and seniors, get vaccinated. In a new report, researchers remind parents the importance of getting their children vaccinated because even healthy children can die from the flu.

According to the report, the CDC researchers found that from October 2004 to September 212, around 830 children with the median age of seven died due to the flu. The researchers stated that the majority of the children who died were not vaccinated, leaving them vulnerable to these flu-complications. The team calculated that 511 children were eligible for the vaccine but only 16 percent of them actually received it. The most common complication was pneumonia. The report also found that 43 percent of the children were healthy when they got the flu. They did not have medical problems, such as asthma, diabetes, cancer, heart defects or neurological disorders that could have exacerbated the symptoms.

"[The CDC] recommends that all children six months or older get the flu vaccine every year, and this report shows that any child can be at risk for severe complications from influenza," Karen Wong, CDC medical officer and the lead author of the report, said according to USA Today. "Prevention is the best strategy, and the best strategy we have is vaccination."

The report outlined that the remaining deaths were due to health conditions. 33 percent of the children had neurological disorders and 12 percent had genetic or chromosomal disorders. The researchers reported that 35 percent of the children had died outside of the hospital and 63 percent of them had died within one week since the onset of the symptoms. During last year's flu season, the CDC found that 56.6 percent of children between the ages of six months and 17-years-old were vaccinated. The CDC hopes that this year's vaccination rate is even higher.

"There is a myth that the flu vaccine can cause the flu, but that's what it is - a myth. It does not cause the flu," Wong stressed.

The report was published in Pediatrics

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