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Flu Killed 115 Children Last Season: CDC
Date:9/15/2011

other half of the children who died had existing medical conditions, such as a neurological disorder, respiratory disease, and congenital heart disease.

The report also noted that only half of the 94 children who died in a hospital or emergency department had been prescribed antiviral drugs. The CDC said it recommends immediate treatment with antivirals.

Dr. Kenneth Bromberg, director of the Vaccine Research Center at The Brooklyn Hospital Center in New York City, said: "Because the rate of death in young children is not as high as with the elderly, the fact that children under 5 die from influenza infection may not be adequately appreciated. Half of the children who died lacked any risk factors so the general notion that you can identify those at risk is flawed. In addition, vaccinating children against influenza protects the whole population, other family members and children who may not be adequately protected against influenza because of their immune status.

"It is clearly the right thing to do for everyone," he added.

Another report in this week's issue of MMWR said there were low levels of flu activity in the United States from May 22 to Sept. 3, 2011, and the circulating strains appear to be a good match for this season's flu vaccine. This season's shot protects against three influenza viruses -- the 2009 influenza A (H1N1) virus, an influenza A (H3N2) virus, and an influenza B virus. These are the same three flu strains that were circulating in 2010-2011 -- and that's just the eighth time in 42 years that such a trend has occurred, the agency said.

"If trends in that report continue we should have a vaccine that will offer good protection against the viruses we expect will circulate this season," Finelli said in the news release.

The CDC added that people should get vaccinated again this season, even if they were vaccinated last year, because immunity diminishes over time.

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