Vaccinated Kids Protect Whole Family

Kids are known for spreading germs.

When it comes to the flu, kids are 10 to 100 times more infectious than adults, experts say.

What if your child could be vaccinated at school with a simple nasal spray that would protect not only your child but your whole family?

According to a new study published in this week's New England Journal of Medicine, flu vaccines for elementary school children can help reduce flu for the whole family.

In this study, children from 24 public elementary schools in the United States were assigned to get either a nasal-spray flu vaccine or no vaccine.

Families of those children who got the the flu vaccine had fewer flulike symptoms, visited doctors less frequently, and used less medication than families whose kid did not receive the flu vaccine, researchers say.

"Our study showed that not only did we protect the child by the flu vaccine -- by doing a school-based vaccination program -- we protected their families and probably the community as well," said Dr. James King, lead author of the study and chief of general pediatrics at University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore.

Another study published in the same issue of the journal indicated that flu vaccines offered good protection even when the vaccine was not a direct match to whatever virus was circulating in the environment.

This offers more support to the idea of vaccinating children to better protect families and communities against the flu.

Flu Vaccine Safe for Kids

The risks of giving kids flu vaccines are small, experts say.

"There are essentially no downsides to immunizing school kids," said Dr. Gregory Poland, director of Mayo Vaccine Research Group in Rochester, Minn. "These data are important because they provide confirmatory data useful in constructing public health policy."

"The risks of vaccination with available influenza virus vaccines are so minimal, while the likelihood of illness, even hospitalization and rarely death from influenza, are major and real," said Dr. Samuel Katz, professor and chairman emeritus of pediatrics at Duke University Medical School in Durham, N.C.

FluMist -- a live, weakened type of flu vaccine used in this study -- is not a shot but a spray delivered into the nostrils. This may make both parents and kids happy.

"No child got a needle. We were able to do this without disrupting activities," King said.

Kids Are Key to Containing Flu Epidemic

Kids are biologically more infectious than adults and are infectious for longer periods of time, according to experts.

Some believe that by vaccinating kids, we are able to better protect our most vulnerable population -- the elderly.

If kids are never infected, they can't spread the flu to other people.

"Children are tremendous amplifiers of the flu," King said. "A child is able to infect the family and the whole community much more effectively than an adult. By vaccinating kids, we can protect the elderly."

"The benefits [of vaccinating children] are enormous," said Dr. Robert Jacobson, chairman of the department of pediatric and adolescent medicine at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. "The elderly do not respond as well to the vaccine as young people. We can break the cycle and spread by vaccinating the younger people."

Breaking the cycle, so to speak, would be a great step for public health.

Roughly 36,000 people die annually from the flu, experts estimate, even though it is a preventable disease.

Page
  • 1
  • |
  • 2
null
Join the Discussion
You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...
See It, Share It
PHOTO: Salvager Eric Schmitt was combing through the wreckage of a convoy of Spanish ships that sank off the coast of Florida in 1715 when he discovered a missing piece from a gold Pyx.
Courtesy 1715 Fleet - Queens Jewels, LLC
Lisa Kudrow
Seth Poppel/Yearbook Library | Getty Images
PHOTO: Motorists were startled when an axe from a dump truck in front of them flew at their windshield.
Massachusetts State Police/Facebook
PHOTO: In this April 26, 2013 photo, a large home intended for the family of Warren Jeffs is seen in Hildale, Utah.
Trent Nelson/The Salt Lake Tribune/AP