Flu Vaccine May Be Especially Good Idea for Kids
WebMD News Archive
In an editorial accompanying the two reports, Kenneth McIntosh, MD, and
Tracy Lieu, MD, MPH, write that the validity of studies like these hinges on
the investigators' ability to distinguish the effects of the flu from those of
another, more serious disease: respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). "Both
studies, but particularly that of Izurieta and colleagues, leave considerable
uncertainty about whether influenza is responsible for all, or even most, of
the excess morbidity that is attributable to it," they write. And even if
it is, they write, "at most, only 20% of the excess number of
hospitalizations in winter were attributed to influenza infection." In
other words, these studies do not prove that all of the excess hospital stays
were due to the flu. Unfortunately, this leaves unanswered the real question:
Is it worth the extra time and stress to give your child the flu vaccine?
McIntosh and Lieu have a valid point, says Neuzil. "We have to realize
that these are estimates and must be careful how we use these data. We've
identified the risk of a disease. Now we need to look at the second half of the
equation: Is giving everyone a vaccine a benefit? That study still needs to be
done," she says. "[But] parents should recognize that very young
children can get sick from influenza. This is not a minor disease."
- New studies show that influenza is responsible for a significant number of
hospitalizations and office visits among children -- especially those younger
than 6 months old.
- In spite of the findings, researchers are not clear as to whether all
children should be vaccinated against the flu.
- The studies were criticized by two experts for overestimating the effects
of the flu.