New hospital standards needed for pediatric flu vaccines

February 4, 2008

A new study published in the February 2008 issue of Pediatrics finds that many children hospitalized for influenza have had a recent, previous hospitalization that would have provided an easy, convenient opportunity to receive a hospital-based influenza vaccination. The authors suggest that evaluating and establishing industry standards for flu vaccines for hospitalized children could help prevent additional hospitalizations and complications from influenza.

In the peer-reviewed article “Hospital-Based Influenza Vaccination of Children: An Opportunity to Prevent Subsequent Hospitalization,” the research team led by Danielle M. Zerr, MD, MPH, medical director of infection control at Seattle Children’s Hospital and associate professor of Pediatrics at the University of Washington School of Medicine (UWSOM), evaluated the frequency of previous hospitalizations among children hospitalized with influenza.

Overall, they found that 23% of children hospitalized with influenza and another complicating illness had a previous hospitalization during the most recent flu-vaccine season. This suggests that reaching those children at highest risk for influenza complications and reducing rates of pediatric hospitalization for influenza may be aided by providing in-hospital vaccinations when children are hospitalized during flu vaccine season.

The study looked at five years of hospital discharge data from the Pediatric Health Information System (PHIS) database from 2001 through 2006 to determine how many children hospitalized with influenza or respiratory illness had a previous hospitalization during the most recent flu-vaccine season. PHIS is an administrative database developed by the Child Health Corporation of America (CHCA), used by 42 free-standing pediatric hospitals. Subjects included newborns through age 18. A previous hospitalization during flu vaccination season was considered if it occurred in the two weeks to six months prior to the influenza admission and between September 1 and March 1. Approximately 14,000 cases of children hospitalized with influenza and 170,000 hospitalized with influenza or a respiratory illness were reviewed.

Researchers found approximately 16% of those hospitalized with influenza and 23% of those hospitalized with influenza and another underlying condition had previous hospital admissions during the vaccination season.

“This information will help pediatricians recognize hospitalization as an important opportunity to vaccinate the highest-risk children, and may hopefully prompt the development of hospital-based flu vaccine programs,” said Zerr.

Influenza is a highly contagious illness causing an average of 36,000 deaths and 200,000 hospitalizations per year in the United States; pneumonia is the most common complication in high-risk groups. Young children and those with certain health conditions are at high risk for serious flu complications.

Influenza, unlike the common cold, has a swift onset of severe symptoms beginning with two to seven days of fever, headache, muscle aches, extreme fatigue, runny nose and sore throat, and a cough that is often severe and may last seven days or more. The flu season is generally from November to April, with most cases occurring between late December and early March.

In 2007 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommended that unvaccinated patients of all ages (including children with high-risk conditions) and all persons aged 6 months to 4 years as well as those 50 and older who are hospitalized at any time, beginning from the time flu vaccine becomes available for the upcoming flu season and continuing throughout flu season, should be offered and strongly encouraged to receive influenza vaccine before being discharged from the hospital.

Seattle Children’s has had a long-standing aggressive flu prevention program, offering free flu shots to inpatients, outpatients and staff. In 2007-2008 Seattle Children’s also offered free vaccines to those with close contact with patients such as family members, teachers, day care staff, nannies and more.

“Many of the sickest children have very fragile immune systems. At Seattle Children’s we’ve already expanded our program beyond patients and staff to ensure we’re doing everything we can to reduce the risk of exposing our high-risk patients to the flu and its complications,” said Zerr. She adds “With findings from this study, we can see that an industry-wide review of hospital-based flu vaccines for all children could take flu-prevention to the next level.”

Source: Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center of Seattle

Explore further: Flu season shows signs of leveling off

Related Stories

Flu season shows signs of leveling off

February 16, 2018
This nasty flu season, which has been worsening for months, may finally be leveling off.

IFN-mediated immunity to influenza A virus infection influenced by RIPK3 protein

February 15, 2018
Each year, influenza kills half a million people globally with the elderly and very young most often the victims. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 37 children have died in the United States ...

Expert says vaccination is still recommended for flu despite decreased effectiveness

January 22, 2018
As the UK currently experiences the worst influenza season since the winter of 2010/2011, influenza expert Dr. Jeremy Rossman of the School of Biosciences at the University, worries that 'the number of cases will continue ...

Smart thermometer improves flu forecasting

February 8, 2018
When a flu season is more severe than expected—like this year's—the surge of patients can overwhelm clinics, emergency rooms, and hospitals.

As flu blankets the nation, a new study links the virus to heart attacks

January 29, 2018
The flu doesn't just cause aches, chills and debilitating fatigue. A new study shows it may also increase the risk of a heart attack.

Just how bad is this flu season? Experts weigh in

February 2, 2018
(HealthDay)—The United States is in the grip of a tough flu season, no doubt.

Recommended for you

Past encounters with the flu shape vaccine response

February 20, 2018
New research on why the influenza vaccine was only modestly effective in recent years shows that immune history with the flu influences a person's response to the vaccine.

Building better tiny kidneys to test drugs and help people avoid dialysis

February 16, 2018
A free online kidney atlas built by USC researchers empowers stem cell scientists everywhere to generate more human-like tiny kidneys for testing new drugs and creating renal replacement therapies.

Expanding Hepatitis C testing to all adults is cost-effective and improves outcomes

February 16, 2018
According to a new study, screening all adults for hepatitis C (HCV) is a cost-effective way to improve clinical outcomes of HCV and identify more infected people compared to current recommendations. Using a simulation model, ...

Study suggests expanded range for emerging tick-borne disease

February 16, 2018
Human cases of Borrelia miyamotoi, a tick-borne infection with some similarities to Lyme disease, were discovered in the eastern United States less than a decade ago. Now new research led by the Yale School of Public Health ...

Flu shot only 36 percent effective, making bad year worse (Update)

February 15, 2018
The flu vaccine is doing a poor job protecting older Americans and others against the bug that's causing most illnesses.

A new class of drug to treat herpes simplex virus-1 infection

February 14, 2018
For patients with the herpes simplex-1 virus (HSV-1), there are just a handful of drugs available to treat the painful condition that can affect the eyes, mouth and genitals.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.