Flu Shots for Kids Protect Everybody, Study Shows

FRIDAY, Aug 21, 2020 (HealthDay News) – When elementary school students get their flu shot every year, everyone benefits, according to a new study.

An increased vaccination rate among elementary school students in California was associated with a decrease in influenza hospitalizations among people of all other age groups, the researchers report.

The results come as no surprise to public health experts, given the well-deserved reputation of children as a major vector for the spread of viral diseases.

“It basically correlates with everything we know about public health, immunization, and the impact of children and children on the spread of viral diseases in a community,” said Dr Eric Cioe-Pena, director of global health for Northwell Health in New Hyde Park, New York

However, the study highlights the continued need to convince reluctant parents of the importance of having their children vaccinated against the flu each year, Cioe-Pena added.

“We have a problem of hesitation with regard to vaccines [the United States] when it comes to children, ”Cioe-Pena said. For me, if you can’t get to the cause of the hesitation, it probably won’t have much impact. “

For this study, researchers led by Jade Benjamin-Chung of the University of California at Berkeley followed a city-wide school flu vaccination program in Oakland, Calif., And compared its success to rates of hospitalizations associated with influenza.

After four years, the program had improved immunization coverage by 11% among children attending more than 95 preschools and elementary schools in Oakland, the researchers reported.

The increase in the vaccination rate was associated with 37 fewer influenza-related hospitalizations per 100,000 people among everyone else in the community – children aged 4 and under as well as those aged 13 and over.

There were also 160 fewer influenza hospitalizations per 100,000 people aged 65 and over, the results show.

Elementary school children have also benefited; researchers have observed a decrease in sickness-related school absences during the flu season.

The results were published online Aug. 18 in the journal PLOS medicine.

“We know that children amplify the flu,” said Dr. Amesh Adalja, senior researcher at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in Baltimore. “Raising childhood immunization rates can be expected to have a cascading impact on the flu season. Making it easier for children to get vaccinated is one way to improve our ability to fight the flu.

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Jothi Venkat

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