Scientists Recommend New Hospital Policies for Pediatric Flu Vaccination

A new study conducted at Seattle Childrens Hospital indicates that many children hosptalized with influenza have had a recent prior hospitalization that would have provided an opportunity to receive the flu vaccine.  Complete results of the study appear in a recent issue of Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Researchers studied pediatric discharge data collected over a five-year period (from 2001 to 2006) to determine how many children hospitalized with influenza or respiratory illness had had a recent, previous hospitalization in which they could have been given a preventive flu vaccination.

Approximately 14,000 incidents of pediatric influenza, and 170,000 cases of influenza or a respiratory illness were analyzed.  Researchers determined that 16% of children with influenza and 23% of children hospitalized with flu and another underlying illness had previously been admitted to the hospital during the most recent flu vaccination season, and could have benefited from the influenza vaccine. 

Each year, influenza causes approximately 36,000 deaths and 200,000 hospitalizations in the U.S., alone.  The flu season generally runs from November to April, and most illnesses are recorded between December and March.

Authors of the study have indicated that the data supports an industry-wide review of hospital protocol surrounding pediatric flu vaccinations.  They advise that new policies ensuring the routine vaccination of all children hospitalized during the flu season could reduce the nation-wide incidence of flu significantly.

Previously on the DC Metro Area Medical Malpractice Law Blog, we have posted articles related to:

  • Flu vaccine questions and answers from the CDC
  • A new study indicating that many physicians prescribe inappropriate, ineffective flu drugs
  • An FDA warning that flu drugs Tamiflu and Relenza need new safety labels for children

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