Your Vaccinated Kids Are Half as Likely to Die If They Catch the Flu

kid getting shot from doctor
iStock.com/didesign021

"Have your kids gotten their flu shots?" It's a question you hear over and over again this time of year, either from pediatricians or in the pharmacy checkout line -- even our family dentist asked me about my son's flu shot status at his last teeth cleaning. It's kind of annoying to constantly field questions about the flu vaccine, but health professionals are asking for a good reason: The flu vaccine saves lives. In fact, a new study published in the journal Pediatrics shows getting your kids vaccinated can cut their risk of dying from the flu by more than half.

Advertisement

Researchers examined data from four different flu seasons between 2010 and 2014, and they found that for kids who got a flu shot and had no underlying medical conditions, the vaccine actually reduced kids' risk of flu-related death by about 65 percent.

Some of the kids in the study groups were considered "high risk" -- meaning they had asthma or other conditions that made them more prone to complications with the flu -- but even among the high risk kids, getting vaccinated resulted in a 51 percent reduction in the likelihood of their dying from the flu.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports 358 children, ages 6 months to 17 years, died from the flu during the study period. They determined the vaccine status for 291 of the kids who passed away, and found that around 74 percent of children who died from the flu had not been vaccinated at all.

More from CafeMom: Why the Flu Is So Much Worse When You're Pregnant

As most parents know, the CDC recommends yearly flu vaccines to everyone 6 months or older, but as this study proves, an alarming number of kids aren't getting their shots. If you haven't had the flu in a long time -- or you've been lucky enough to never have the flu -- you might think of the virus as nothing more than a bad cold. We tend to think of the flu as something that's only deadly for newborns or elderly people, and we assume a healthy kid can shake it off with just a few days of rest.

In reality, the flu can be extremely dangerous for any child, even if he or she is completely healthy. Kids can have high fevers, muscle aches, vomiting, and diarrhea, and their symptoms can last for weeks at a time. The CDC reports kids under 5 -- and especially those under 2 -- have a much higher risk of flu-related complications, and as many as 26,000 kids have been hospitalized with flu-related symptoms since 2010.

More from CafeMom: 10 Flu Shot Facts You Should Know Before You Get Vaccinated

Obviously, we'd prefer that kids who get vaccinated never get the flu at all, but unfortunately that's just not possible. Every year, there are multiple strains of the flu. The CDC says the vaccine can't keep kids from getting every strain, but it will help protect them from the strains expected to pose the biggest threat each year, and it can make recovery easier if they do get sick. And now, thanks to this study, we also know that getting a flu shot can literally help save kids' lives.

Read More >