Data shows childhood flu is not a cold

MADRID (EFE) – Influenza is also “underdiagnosed and underestimated” among children, and it is more than just a cold with fever: the incidence rate exceeds 45% and seven out of 10 people are hospitalized (rates equivalent to those in adults) Occurs in healthy children with no risk factors.

This was highlighted by paediatricians and nurses at the General Nursing Council’s Pediatric Flu Vaccination conference in partnership with AstraZeneca, who highlighted the mistakes of downplaying the virus and the importance of pediatric and adult vaccinations.

Jaime Pérez, President of the Spanish Vaccinology Association, emphasized that in Spain, influenza causes an average of 58,640 primary care visits and 4,239 hospital admissions in children under 5 years of age each year, of which 822 are seriously ill and 249 are admitted to the ICU. ev).

This is the group at highest risk for complications. An average of eight children under 5 years old die each year (the number for the entire pediatric age group is 20 to 30), but in the 2017-2018 season, the number reached 56.

Vaccines may reduce hospitalizations

The deputy director emphasized that the currently available inactivated and attenuated intranasal vaccines have a coverage rate of 56%, an effectiveness rate of 76%, a 90% reduction in primary consultations, a 74% reduction in emergency room visits, and a 93% reduction in hospital admissions. Oviedo IV, Emilio Velasco.

And taking these drugs was not associated with an increase in respiratory infections, febrile seizures or autoimmune diseases.

Photo of a boy and girl at a school in Toledo. EFE/Ismael Herrero

Each season, epidemic outbreaks occur two weeks earlier in children than in adults, acting as vectors for disease transmission; initially, more than 60% of those infected are children under 14 years of age, who play a role in “transmission to susceptible populations.” play a fundamental role” and lead to massive consumption of health resources.

Francisco Álvarez, a member of the Vaccine Advisory Committee of the Spanish Association of Pediatrics (AEP), warned: “Influenza is not a banal disease, but an unpredictable threat.”

Experts recall that 0-4 years old and 5-17 years old are the groups with the highest cumulative incidence rate, which exceeds 45%.

Although the normal course of the disease is mild, it “can cause serious complications”: the hospitalization rate for children under 2 years old equals or even exceeds that of children over 65 years old, reaching 40 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, but the majority are healthy: two thirds There were no risk factors before.

The same situation occurred in the ICU, where 56% of minors admitted with influenza had no previous illness.

Coverage problem

Given these data, “children must be vaccinated,” first to protect them, and then their environment, which may be full of vulnerable people, such as their grandparents, who must also protect themselves by piercing.

For the first time this season, children’s flu vaccines are available for children ages 5 to 59 months, and will be paid for by all communities.

This year it will also coincide with the first respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) immunization for infants under six months of age, with experts lamenting a drop in coverage following the coronavirus outbreak and waiting to see how the campaign unfolds.

“We are racking our brains to find a strategy when the best strategy is an epidemic,” Velasco said sarcastically.

In 2021, when influenza and COVID-19 broke out at the same time, the total coverage rate for people over 65 years old was close to 70%, and the coverage rate for medical staff exceeded 60%; a year later, these proportions dropped to 64% and 54% respectively.

Velasco said increased awareness of the seriousness and effectiveness of the drug would increase coverage, “and that’s getting vaccinated without hesitation.” He also noted the important role health professionals play in increasing vaccination rates.

Experts also advocated establishing a common calendar in all communities so that they use the same drugs at the same time, for the same target groups, because cases like pneumococcus are “absolutely chaotic,” they concluded. Antonio Forcada, President of the National Association for Nursing and Vaccines (Anenvac).

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