North Carolina health officials report 15 more flu deaths

A nurse prepares an injection of the influenza vaccine at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston Massachusetts

In a case focusing on almost 300 children from the US who died from flu over four seasons, researchers found that majority have not been vaccinated against the virus. A government study found three of every four kids who died from the flu wasn't vaccinated. This is a reminder the CDC recommends all children 6-months and older should be vaccinated against the flu.

Children should be vaccinated each year, though after the first year they only need one dose. But the risk is higher among children with certain medical conditions, including asthma, heart disease, diabetes, cystic fibrosis and sickle cell anemia. Although they found that children with high-risk conditions were vaccinated more than children who didn't have medical problems, the number was still very small. We tend to think of the flu as something that's only deadly for newborns or elderly people, and we assume a healthy kid can shake it off with just a few days of rest. But 53% of these deaths (n=153) were children with underlying high-risk conditions. From October 2, 2016 through February 4, 2017, there were 38,244 positive tests for flu virus in the United States. For instance, in 2011-2012, around 37 children died from the flu.

There are rumors among people claiming that vaccines cause serious health issues raising questions on the effectiveness and safety of the same.

For the season, the death toll from the flu is at 156.

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Health officials in North Carolina say 15 more people died from the flu in the past week.

Flannery was the lead author on the case-cohort study, which compared vaccination uptake among laboratory-confirmed influenza-associated pediatric deaths with vaccination coverage among U.S. pediatric patients for flu seasons from 2010 to 2014.

"Parents of children with high-risk conditions often know that their children are at increased risk of severe illness if they get the flu", Flannery noted. "Increasing influenza vaccination could prevent influenza-associated deaths among children and adolescents". Age was reported for 13,306 of those patients: 7.9 percent were younger than 5 years old; 30.4 percent were between 5 and 24 years old; 30.3 percent were between 25 and 64 years old; and 31.5 percent were 65 or older (see graphic below).

The study found that only 26 percent of the children who died from influenza had been vaccinated before their flu diagnosis.

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