A total of 101influenza-associated deaths in children occurred throughout the 2016-2017 flu season, according to a report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This is the first time since the 2014-2015 season that the number has exceeded 100.
Although full information on the vaccination status of these children is not yet available, in past seasons, between 80% and 85% of flu-associated pediatric deaths have occurred in children who had not received flu vaccine. The CDC also reported that the influenza A (H3N2) virus, typically associated with more severe outcomes for children and older adults, predominated in the 2016-2017 season.
A study reported in Pediatrics found that flu vaccination reduced the risk of flu-associated death by 51% among children with underlying high-risk conditions and by nearly 65% among otherwise healthy children between 2010 and 2014.
The CDC recommends that everyone aged 6 months and older be vaccinated for the flu, even though children younger than 5 may be more vulnerable to serious flu complications. Certain long-term health problems, such as asthma or other lung disorders, heart disease, or a neurologic or neurodevelopmental disorder, may also increase the risk for complications.
For the 2016-2017 season, influenza-like illness was at or above baseline for 17 consecutive weeks, with activity peaking nationally in February.