A new CDC study published in Clinical Infectious Diseasesexternal iconunderscores the burden of influenza (flu) among children (0-17 years old) during nine flu seasons after the 2009 H1N1 pandemic. Researchers looked at pediatric flu hospitalizations recorded in the US Flu Hospitalization Surveillance Network (FluSurv-NET) from 2010-2019. The study found that pediatric flu-related hospitalization rates were consistently highest among children younger than 6 months who are too young to get vaccinated, and that hospitalization rates decreased as children got older. However, hospitalized, older children had more severe outcomes (e.g., ICU admission, mechanical ventilation). This study reinforces the importance of vaccination among children 6 months and older as well as the importance of vaccination of pregnant people to protect infants (younger than 6 months old) from flu after birth until they are old enough to get vaccinated themselves.
CDC recommends that all children get an annual flu vaccine and that all hospitalized children be treated promptly with influenza antivirals. Better compliance with CDC’s influenza vaccination and antiviral recommendations could help minimize the impact of flu on children.