Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Recently Reported Childhood Deaths from Influenza Are a Stark Reminder to Vaccinate Now

/PRNewswire/ -- In recent weeks, a number of childhood deaths across the country have been linked to influenza. These tragic reports underscore the importance of preventing this serious and sometimes deadly disease with an annual flu vaccine.

Influenza vaccine is still available and with influenza activity at a relatively high level across the country, now is the time for anyone who hasn't yet gotten the vaccine to do so. It takes about two weeks for the body to develop protection after receiving an influenza vaccine. The Childhood Influenza Immunization Coalition (CIIC) urges everyone who raises and cares for children to make sure those kids are vaccinated against influenza as soon as possible.

"Most people use the term "flu" generically, to describe a number of different viruses that circulate in winter months (between December and May), but true influenza is much more severe than these other viruses," said Dr. Carol J. Baker, Immediate Past President of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases and Chair of CIIC. "It's also preventable. Unfortunately far too few kids get the vaccine each year. As a pediatrician, it is devastating to see kids suffer needlessly."

National health experts recommend that all kids 6 months through 18 years of age receive an annual vaccination. Younger children and those with underlying medical conditions, such as asthma or diabetes, are at particularly increased risk for severe complications from the flu. Because infants younger than 6 months cannot be vaccinated themselves, parents must protect them by making sure those around them are vaccinated.

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