Plus, two-thirds of parents don’t believe getting a flu shot for their child is more important this year, despite opinions from major government agencies and pediatricians to the contrary.
“Children under 5 – especially those under 2 – are at high risk of developing serious complications from the flu,” the United States 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 can see spikes in influenza and COVID-19 at the same time, which could overwhelm the health care system, blood pressure testing ability and potentially reduce our ability to catch and effectively treat both respiratory illnesses,” he said said Sarah Clark, partner director of the poll conducted by the CS Mott Children’s Hospital, Michigan Medicine, in a statement.
Dr Anthony Fauci, the country’s leading infectious disease specialist, once again stressed the importance of getting the flu shot this year, while speaking at the CITIZEN by CNN conference on Tuesday.
The flu is deadly
Children die from the flu every year – last year 188 pediatric flu deaths were reported in the 2019-2020 flu season. But that’s only the tip of the iceberg, according to the CDC, as many deaths from the flu go unreported.
For example, the same number of children – 188 – died from the flu in 2017-18, but based on statistical modeling, the CDC estimates that 600 children died.
Flu illness is much more serious than that of a cold, the CDC warns, saying many children need hospitalization. Between 7,000 and 26,000 children under the age of 5 in the United States are hospitalized each year with flu-related illness.
Besides death, CDC says serious complications from the flu understand:
- Swelling of the brain, called encephalopathy
- Dehydration, where the child loses too much water and salts, which can also be fatal
- Pneumonia, which kills a child every 39 seconds around the world, says UNICEF
- Worsening existing medical problems, such as asthma or heart disease
- Increased incidence of ear infections and sinus problems
Symptoms of the flu and Covid-19 are similar – a worsening cough, fever, body aches, sore throat, and a runny or stuffy nose – making it difficult for doctors to know which one to treat. .
“We can see spikes in influenza and COVID-19 at the same time, which could overwhelm the health care system, blood pressure testing ability and potentially reduce our ability to catch and effectively treat both respiratory illnesses,” he said Clark said.
Although few children have died from Covid-19 – so far – there have been tragic cases: one baby died in China at the start of the pandemic, followed by another baby in the United States in March . Kimora “Kimmie” Lynum, 9, died in Florida in July, followed in August by a 6-year-old. Also in August, a one-year-old child with health problems died in Georgia.
The number of Covid-19 cases is on the rise, according to an American Academy of Pediatrics report updated weekly.
There were 74,553 new cases of Covid-19 in children between September 3 and September 17 – a 15% increase in just over two weeks – for a total of 587,948 cases of coronavirus in children in the United States , according to AAP data.
Families who did not have their child vaccinated against the flu last year were also the least likely to plan to have their children vaccinated this year. These parents expressed concerns about the side effects of the flu shot or said they believed the flu shot was neither necessary nor effective.
“There is a lot of misinformation about the flu shot, but it’s the best defense for children against the serious health consequences of the flu and the risk of passing it on to others,” Clark said.
In comparison, 96% of parents who had their child vaccinated against the flu in 2019 said they intended to do the same this year.
“A major challenge for public health officials is how to reach parents who do not routinely ask their child for a seasonal flu shot,” she said. “When it is not common to get the flu shot every year, parents need to be encouraged to think about why it is essential for their child to get the flu shot. ”
About 14% of parents said they kept their child away from the doctor’s office for fear of catching Covid-19. However, Clark said, most health care practitioners have safety procedures implemented.
“Parents who are concerned about exposure to COVID should contact their child’s provider to find out what types of precautions have been put in place,” she said in the statement.