The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention believe that 90% of pediatric deaths from influenza this season were not vaccinated. There have been 105 pediatric deaths attributed to influenza-like-illness (ILI) to date this flu season. The CDC defines pediatric cases as those less than 18 years of age.
The report also indicates that 60% of these cases were in pediatrics who are considered “high risk” while the remainder had no known chronic health or medical problems. Conditions such as asthma/respiratory pathology, heart conditions, or neurological problems along with anyone who has a weak or compromised immune system put children at high risk for complications or severe cases of influenza.
The CDC also points out that these numbers are consistent with experience from previous flu seasons. See the latest 2012/2013 Flu Update for additional flu data.
According to the CDC:
"CDC began tracking flu-associated pediatric deaths after the 2003-2004 flu season – a season that, like the current flu season, started early and was intense. In addition, it took a high toll on children. In the 2003-2004 season, 153 pediatric deaths were reported to CDC from 40 states. Flu-associated pediatric deaths became nationally reportable the following season. Since that time, reported pediatric deaths during regular influenza seasons have ranged from 34 deaths (during 2011-2012) to 122 deaths (during 2010-2011). However, during the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic, which lasted from April 15, 2009 to October 2, 2010, 348 pediatric deaths were reported to CDC."
Despite recommending vaccination of children aged 6 months to 18 years, and subsequently adults, pediatric vaccination rates have remained low. The CDC claims this years vaccine was estimated 60% effective against flu with slightly lower effectiveness in those over 65 years old.
Vaccination continues to be the first-line of defense in preventing influenza followed by antiviral treatment for those at high risk.