In addition, two-thirds of parents don’t believe getting a flu shot for their child is more important this year, despite advice to the contrary from major government organizations and pediatricians.
“Children younger than 5 years old — especially those younger than 2 — are at high risk of developing serious flu-related complications,” the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said, adding that getting a flu shot during the pandemic — for all ages — is more important than ever.
“We may see peaks of flu and COVID-19 at the same time, which could overwhelm the health care system, strain testing capacity and potentially reduce our ability to catch and treat both respiratory illnesses effectively,” said Sarah Clark, associate director of the poll done by C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, Michigan Medicine, in a statement.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, once again stressed the importance of getting a flu shot this year, while speaking during the CITIZEN by CNN Conference on Tuesday.
“You should get it no later than the end of October,” he told the moderator, CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. “If it’s available now, you should get it now.”
“Don’t wait until any time beyond October,” he added.
Flu is deadly
Children die from the flu every year — last year there were 188 pediatric flu deaths reported during the 2019-2020 flu season. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg, according to the CDC, because many deaths from flu are not reported.
For example, the same number of children — 188 — died from the flu during 2017-2018, but based on statistical modeling, the CDC believes 600 children died.
Illness from influenza is much more serious than that of a cold, the CDC warns, saying that many children need to be hospitalized. Between 7,000 and 26,000 children under 5 in the United States are hospitalized from flu-related illness each year.
- Swelling of the brain, called encephalopathy
- Dehydration, where the child loses too much water and salts, which can also be deadly
- Pneumonia, which kills a child every 39 seconds around the world, according to UNICEF
- Making existing medical problems worse, such as asthma or heart disease
- Increasing incidence of ear infections and sinus problems
“We may see peaks of flu and COVID-19 at the same time, which could overwhelm the health care system, strain testing capacity and potentially reduce our ability to catch and treat both respiratory illnesses effectively,” Clark said.