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Flu vaccination reduces life-threatening flu illness by 74 percent

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According to recent study, published on March 26, 2014 in the Journal of Infectious Diseases, influenza vaccination reduces a child’s risk of life-threatening influenza illness by 74%.

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In Connecticut, a total of 4,538 positive influenza cases were documented for the current 2013–2014 flu season. Influenza was reported in all 8 Connecticut counties. Of the 4,538 flu cases: 1,328 were Type A (2009 H1N1), 261 were Type A (H3N2), 2,704 Type A (subtype unspecified), 178 influenza B viruses, and 67 of unknown type have been reported for the current season.

This new study is the first to estimate vaccine effectiveness against flu admissions to pediatric intensive care units (PICU). (The CDC usually measures flu vaccine effectiveness against “medically attended flu illness” – that is, how well it protects against having to go to the doctor for flu symptoms.) The researchers analyzed the medical records of 216 children admitted to PICUs in the United States. They found that flu vaccination reduced a child's risk of ending up in the PICU for flu by 74%. These findings show that while vaccination may not always prevent flu illness, it protects against more serious flu outcomes.

“These study results underscore the importance of an annual flu vaccination, which can keep your child from ending up in the intensive care unit,” said Alicia Fry, M.D. of CDC’s Influenza Division. “It is extremely important that all children – especially children at high risk of flu complications – are protected from what can be a life-threatening illness."

Connecticut influenza activity continues to be classified geographically as “widespread.” In fact, many regions appear to be experiencing a second wave of flu activity (see graph in slide show).

The CDC recommends annual flu vaccination for everyone 6 months and older and especially for children at high risk of serious flu-related complications.

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