Kids' Vaccinations Prevent Flu Among Other Age Groups

January 19, 2015
Meghan Ross, Associate Editor

A University of Florida study revealed that immunizing school children against influenza produces a ripple effect of fewer flu cases among the larger community.

A University of Florida study revealed that immunizing school children against influenza produces a ripple effect of fewer flu cases among the larger community.

The researchers found that by vaccinating roughly 50% of children aged 5 to 17 years in Alachua County, Florida, between 2011 and 2012, the kids’ risk of flu-related trips to the emergency room decreased by 79%.

More interesting were the effects on individuals outside of that age group. For example, kids aged 0 to 4 years saw a drop in their attack rates (AR) for influenza-like illness by 89% during the same time period. Across community members of all ages, 65% saw a drop in AR.

Previous research has shown that children tend to be the biggest culprits of influenza transmission. More school-located influenza vaccination programs (SLIV), therefore, were recommended by the researchers to reduce the number of flu cases in the community.

“This study highlights the value of SLIV programs for increasing influenza immunization coverage rates by complementing the traditional delivery strategy that depends upon medical offices and pharmacies,” the study authors concluded.

The researchers did not see the same level of indirect effectiveness among the community’s elderly population.