Flu Kills 105 Children This Year, Most Weren't Vaccinated
(NBC News) -- Influenza has killed 105 children this year, federal officials reported on Friday, and almost none of them had been vaccinated against the virus.
That's triple the number who died during last year's flu season. But flu deaths fluctuate a lot and it's not anywhere near the worst season for child deaths, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says in its weekly report on influenza.
"We are getting close to the end of the flu season now but it's not over," says CDC flu expert Dr. Michael Jhung.
Deaths from flu and pneumonia are "barely" above the annual level designated as "epidemic", he said. "We get an epidemic of flu every year," Jhung added in a telephone interview. "It's just the flu season. We assign the name epidemic to it."
Officials reported that six children died of flu last week, the CDC said. That brings the total to 105 for this season, compared to 34 last year. But in the 2010-2011 flu season 122 died, and when the H1N1 swine flu pandemic hit in 2009-2010, it killed 282 U.S. children.
Most of the children who died – 90 percent of them – had not been vaccinated against flu.
This may be confusing, as CDC had reported that the flu vaccine was not especially effective in those most at risk from flu – the elderly. But Jhung says it protects children pretty well.
"In the senior age group it didn't do as well, but in the children who should have been vaccinated, it actually worked pretty well," Jhung said. A vaccinated child was 64 percent less likely to be hospitalized with flu this year, or to need to see a doctor for symptoms.
Of the children who died, 60 percent were at unusually high risk for flu complications.
"Children younger than 5 years of age and children of any age with certain chronic health conditions, including asthma or other lung disorders, heart disease, or a neurologic or neurodevelopmental disorder are at high risk of developing serious complications from flu infection," CDC says'
That means 40 percent were perfectly healthy. Jhung stresses that people who are ill with flu should go to a doctor straightaway, because two flu medications – Tamiflu and Relenza – can help reduce how severe symptoms are. But they have to be given within a day or two of getting sick.
"Antivirals do work," Jhung said.
Flu kills anywhere between 3,000 and 49,000 people a year — it varies a lot, the CDC says — and people over 65 are far more likely to die from flu than any other age group.
Thursday, May 23 2013 9:02 PM EDT2013-05-24 01:02:26 GMT
The Armed Services YMCA has big dreams for a state of the art center in Harker Heights. Thursday they were presented an even bigger check to help make that dream one step closer to a reality. LashondaMore >>
The Armed Services YMCA has big dreams for a state of the art center in Harker Heights. Thursday they were presented an even bigger check to help make that dream one step closer to a reality. More >>
Thursday, May 23 2013 6:26 PM EDT2013-05-23 22:26:43 GMT
(KCEN) -- Big news for Boy Scouts and gay activists nationwide. Today, the Boy Scouts of America voted to remove its ban on openly gay scouts. More than 1400 delegates will be voting on this decisionMore >>
Big news for Boy Scouts and gay activists nationwide.More >>
Thursday, May 23 2013 4:48 PM EDT2013-05-23 20:48:45 GMT
(KCEN) -- There is major accident on the northbound I-35 access road. The accident is just south of exit 306, Pendleton Road. Three cars are involved in the accident and heavy traffic is starting toMore >>
There is major accident on the northbound I-35 access road.More >>
Thursday, May 23 2013 1:47 PM EDT2013-05-23 17:47:24 GMT
(KCEN) -- A Fort Hood soldier is accused of helping his friend sexually assault a woman in Austin. Twenty-three-year-old Sergeant Jeremy Bolen is now in the Travis County Jail. He and 28-year-old MichaelMore >>
A Fort Hood soldier is accused of helping his friend sexually assault a woman in Austin.More >>
Thursday, May 23 2013 1:36 PM EDT2013-05-23 17:36:37 GMT
(KCEN) -- Victims of the Fort Hood shooting massacre may have to wait a little longer before their civil trial against the government. A motion was filed on May 17 to delay the trial for 14 months. LawyersMore >>
Victims of the Fort Hood shooting massacre may have to wait a little longer before their civil trial against the government.More >>
Thursday, May 23 2013 10:50 AM EDT2013-05-23 14:50:11 GMT
(KCEN) -- A 7-Eleven cashier in Killeen was stabbed during a robbery. It happened just before 2 A.M. Wednesday at the 7-Eleven in the 14-hundred block of Rancier. The clerk said this man came in theMore >>
A 7-Eleven cashier in Killeen was stabbed during a robbery.More >>
Thursday, May 23 2013 10:49 AM EDT2013-05-23 14:49:14 GMT
(KCEN) -- A man meets a woman at a Waco hotel and then ends up naked and robbed. Waco Police say around 3 A.M. Wednesday morning, a man met a female acquaintance at Motel 6 on the 3100 block of southMore >>
A man meets a woman at a Waco hotel and then ends up naked and robbed.More >>
Wednesday, May 22 2013 6:45 PM EDT2013-05-22 22:45:58 GMT
(KCEN) -- An eight-year-old Killeen boy whose battle with cancer we've been following has passed away. Max Simmons captured our hearts earlier this year. He was diagnosed with brain cancer last mayMore >>
An eight-year-old Killeen boy whose battle with cancer we've been following has passed away.More >>