Fort Worth, Texas,
13:01 PM

New Data Emphasizes Importance of Flu Vaccine, Especially for Children

Doc Smitty on why we shouldn’t give up on the flu vaccine mid-season

Did you hear early in the season how the flu vaccine was worthless and only going to have about 10 percent effectiveness?

You probably did, but hopefully that didn't prevent you from getting your child's flu vaccine.

New data from the CDC suggest that the vaccine was 50 percent effective for pediatric illness, which is actually a fair year. We’ve had better. We’ve had worse. But it's definitely way better than the 10-30 percent estimates that were being thrown around earlier this year.

In previous years, data have shown that nearly two-thirds of pediatric deaths have occurred in children who were not vaccinated. This data is even more significant as three-fourths of pediatric deaths have occurred in children who were not completely immunized (either no vaccines or only one vaccine in a baby who needs 2 for full protection).

Only 54 percent of children who died of flu had a condition that characterized them as high risk. This means that they were older, healthy kids who got the flu and died.

Is the flu shot perfect? No. Do I wish it were better? Yes.

But do any of these reasons for not getting one hold up?

"It doesn't sound like it's going to work very well this year anyway.""My kid's healthy, so I don't think they really need one.""We stay really careful to avoid others who are sick so we'll be good."

Nope. Nope. And, unless you live in a bunker from October to March: Nope!

It's actually still not too late. You can get protection from this year that will help and there is mounting evidence in adults that getting flu vaccines year over year may provide more protection than just for that season. We're still waiting on that evidence in kids, but logic says it could still apply.

Get to know Justin Smith, M.D.

Justin Smith, M.D., is a pediatrician in Trophy Club  and the Medical Advisor for Digital Health for Cook Children's in Fort Worth, Texas. He has an active community on both Facebook and Twitter as @TheDocSmitty and writes weekly for Cook Children's He believes that strategic use of social media and technology by pediatricians to connect with families can deepen their relationship and provide a new level of convenience for both of their busy lifestyles. Dr. Smith’s innovative pediatric clinic, a pediatric clinic “designed by you,” open now. Click to learn more. To make an appointment, call 817-347-8100.

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