As Flu season sets in, health officials have a warning for parents--even the Region's healthiest kids are at risk of dying from influenza. According to new research from the American Academy of Pediatrics, of the 830 children in the U.S. who died from the flu between 2004 and 2012, more than 40-percent did not have any underlying medical condition that would have put them at risk for complications, like asthma or heart disease.
Pediatrician Dr. Lia Gaggino says the flu can make health spiral downward very quickly,even for the healthiest kids. "Ear infections and pneumonias, and sinus infections as secondary complications, and a lot of times that's what the kids may die from, are pneumonias."
While Dr. Gaggino admits it is difficult for researchers who make the flu vaccine to predict which strains will dominate in any given year, she says this year there are two different vaccines--and both offer wide protection from several viruses. "It covers the HINI, it covers the H3N2, and then there's a third; and then the quadrivalent, or the newer one, includes an additional virus."
Dr. Gaggino says during the last flu season, 158 children died from influenza-related causes in the U.S. including four in Indiana.
The CDC recommends anyone older than six months of age be vaccinated against the flu, if there are no health reasons preventing the immunizations--such as allergies. Frequent hand-washing and sanitizing surfaces can also minimize virus exposure. Dr. Gaggino stresses that while the vaccine can trigger a short-lived immune response causing some fatigue or soreness, there is no way to contract the virus from a flu shot or nasal spray.