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Few Medicaid Kids with Asthma Get Recommended Flu Shot

Researchers at the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital say many children with asthma – who are at an increased// risk for influenza-related complications – aren’t getting immunized against the flu, even when they visit their doctor during flu season.

In this month’s issue of the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, the researchers report that among unvaccinated children with asthma who were enrolled in Michigan Medicaid, 73 percent had at least one office visit during flu season. During the course of two flu seasons, 40 percent of these children had the opportunity to become vaccinated, but were not.

“Our findings confirm concerns about low influenza immunization rates among children with asthma,” says study lead author Kevin Dombkowski, DrPH, M.S., member of the Child Health Evaluation Research (CHEAR) Unit in the Division of General Pediatrics, and research assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics and Communicable Diseases at the U-M Medical School.

“After studying this group of children over the course of two flu seasons, we found that only 17 percent were vaccinated during the first season, and 22 percent were vaccinated the following flu season. In all, fewer than 10 percent of these children were vaccinated both seasons. The national goal is for 60 percent or more of them to receive the flu vaccine every season.”

Despite vaccination recommendations, many high-risk children, including those with asthma, do not receive an annual flu shot. Even during seasons with vaccine shortages, these high-risk individuals are prioritized to receive the available doses.

Prior studies have found that missed opportunities – medical visits where a vaccine-eligible child is seen by a health care professional, but not immunized – occur frequently and, if eliminated, could greatly improve vaccination rates.

To better gauge the potential for improving and maintaining vaccinat
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