Pre-school children are at risk for severe influenza infections; especially those in child care, where the risk of acquisition is greater. To protect against influenza in this setting, the state of Connecticut passed a law in September 2010 requiring all children between 6 months and 5 years of age who attend licensed preschool or child care facility in the state to receive at least one dose of influenza vaccine each year. Connecticut became the second state – after New Jersey – to implement this policy.
After the regulation was put in place, immunization rates among Connecticut children between 6 months and 5 years of age increased from 67.8 percent during the 2009-2010 season to 84.1 percent during the 2012-2013 season. Among 11 Emerging Infections Program (EIP) sites surveyed, Connecticut had the greatest percentage increase among children ≤ 4 years of age (Hadler JL, Yousey-Hindez K, Kudish K, et al. Impact of requiring influenza vaccination for children in licensed child care or preschool programs—Connecticut, 2012-2013 influenza season. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2014 Mar 7;63(9):181-5.).
Connecticut’s action lessened the incidence of influenza disease among young children in their state. During the 2007-2008 influenza season, Connecticut was third highest in its incidence of influenza-associated hospitalizations in children ≤ 4 years of age (58.6 per 100,000). During the 2012-2013 season, Connecticut dropped to seventh among states (51.5 per 100,000) and was one of only two states to record a decrease in incidence (12 percent) among children in that age group. Maryland was the other, with a 6 percent decrease.
Not surprisingly, greater immunization rates led to less hospitalization and suffering.