Every year in the United States between 75 and 150 children die from influenza infection. Some of these children have underlying high-risk medical conditions; most don’t.
To determine the efficacy of influenza vaccine at preventing pediatric deaths, researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) examined the incidence of laboratory-confirmed influenza in children in the United States who did or did not receive an influenza vaccine that season (Flannery B, Reynolds SB, Blanton L, et al. Influenza vaccine effectiveness against pediatric deaths: 2010-2014. Pediatrics 2017 May;139(5)).
Investigators studied 358 laboratory-confirmed influenza deaths that occurred between July 2010 and June 2014 in children between 6 months and 17 years of age. The average vaccination coverage in this cohort of children was 48 percent. Overall vaccine effectiveness against death was 65 percent (95 percent confidence intervals [CI] were 54 to 74 percent). For children with underlying high-risk medical conditions, vaccine effectiveness against death was 51 percent (95 percent CI were 31 to 67 percent).
These data confirm the fact that increasing influenza immunization rates among children will save lives.