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Last year's flu season claimed 115 lives of children and teens from flu virus


The Centers for Disease Control said Sept. 15 that 115 teenagers and children died from influenza last year, most of whom did not receive the flu vaccine. The CDC has for many years recommended a flu shot for all who have compromised immune systems, including children, the elderly and pregnant women.

There were 74 children who died last year of the flu, and less than a quarter of those children had been vaccinated against the flu. If a child misses the flu shot and gets the flu, his parents should take him in to the doctor to be evaluated as to whether or not he needs antiviral medication to help fight the flu. Only half of the children who died from the flu in the hospital were given antiviral drugs to help fight the flu virus. Since the swine flu outbreak two years ago, the CDC has continue to recommend immediate antiviral medication treatment for those exhibiting severe symptoms.

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"It's vital that children get vaccinated," Dr. Lyn Finelli, chief of the CDC's Surveillance and Outbreak Response Team, said in a statement. "We know the flu vaccine isn't 100 percent effective, especially not in children with high risk medical conditions. That's why it's essential that these two medical tools be fully utilized. Vaccinate first; then use influenza antiviral drugs as a second line of defense against the flu. Right now we aren't fully using the medical tools at our disposal to prevent flu illnesses and deaths in children."

The CDC began tracking flu deaths among children in 2004, and the numbers peaked during the swine flu epidemic from 2009, showing 282 child deaths from the flu. The lowest number shown in the tracking was 46 child deaths in the 2005-2006 flu season.

There are no new strains for the shot to protect children against in this year’s flu shot, but CDC officials say it is imperative for everyone older than six months to get the flu shot, nonetheless. Last year’s flu shot will not protect against this year’s flu virus. The 2010-2011 vaccine protects against influenza b, H1N1 and H3N2.