Flu Vaccine Prevents Severe Illness in Kids

Even when the viruses and vaccines are different, flu vaccine may still provide protection

(RxWiki News) Even when the flu vaccine doesn't prevent the flu altogether in kids, it may still prevent severe sickness.

That's the key takeaway of a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

This study found that, even when the flu vaccine was designed to protect against different types of flu viruses than those that were circulating, it still protected against severe illness in children.

“This study highlights that flu can cause serious illness in children, but flu vaccines can be lifesaving," said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky in a press release. "This is very good news. It’s especially important that children get a flu vaccine in addition to their recommended COVID-19 vaccines this season. Flu season has started and currently flu vaccination is down in children, so now is the best time to get your child vaccinated, if you have not already.”

Flu viruses never stop changing. Each year, health officials review the circulating flu viruses to try to create flu vaccines that match them. Some years are more accurate than others, as the evolution of a virus can be difficult to accurately predict.

But this new study suggests that, even when those predictions are off, getting your children vaccinated against the flu can still be beneficial. The flu can be deadly, but it appears that vaccination may prevent severe illness even when it doesn't prevent infection altogether.

Looking at a massive amount of data from the 2019-2020 flu season, CDC researchers found that the flu vaccine reduced the risk of severe illness from the flu by 78 percent in kids when the viruses were similar to those the vaccine was designed for. When the viruses were different from the vaccines, that figure dropped to 47 percent.

Overall, the flu vaccine was 76 percent effective at protecting against life-threatening flu.

In light of these findings, researchers encouraged parents to have their children vaccinated against the flu.

This research was published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.

The CDC funded this study. Study authors disclosed funds outside of the current study and various relationships with health institutions and pharmaceutical companies.

Review Date: 
February 3, 2022