H1N1's Impact on Children
The CDC estimates that 10,000 people have died from complications related to 2009 H1N1—many young children and young people. During this flu season so far, it is estimated that 229 children have died of influenza. This is an unusually high number that shows the effect of the 2009 H1N1 virus.
The adolescent flu-related mortality rates are also already considerably higher than total deaths reported in previous flu seasons, compared to all other age groups. Seventy-five adolescents aged 12–17 years have died from 2009 H1N1 from August 2009 through December 2009 compared to 47 adolescents during the entire 2008–2009 flu season.
Important Messages for Parents
If a child has an underlying health condition like asthma, a neuro-developmental disorder, or diabetes, they are at high risk for flu-related complications and should be vaccinated. The CDC has released a brochure with important information for parents of children at risk of complications from the flu.
The CDC would like to remind parents that children through nine years of age require two doses vaccine, about a month apart. Older children and adults only need one dose. And an important note for parents of infants: since infants under six months of age cannot receive the vaccine, it is important that their caregivers and others around them (including siblings) protect themselves against getting sick. While the safety of the flu vaccine is a concern for many parents, the H1N1 vaccine is made the same way as previous flu vaccines and is very safe.
Advice for Pregnant Women and the Flu
When a pregnant woman gets a flu shot, it can protect both her and her baby. Research has found that pregnant women who had a flu shot get sick less often with the flu than do pregnant women who did not get a flu shot. One study even showed that babies born to mothers who had a flu shot in pregnancy also are less likely to get sick with flu than do babies whose mothers did not get a flu shot.
The seasonal flu shot has been given to millions of pregnant women over many years. Flu shots have not been shown to cause harm to pregnant women or their babies. The 2009 H1N1 flu vaccine is being made in the same way and at the same places where the seasonal flu vaccine is made.
Another strategy for women to keep their infants healthy is to breastfeed. Babies who are breastfed get sick from infections like the flu less often and less severely than babies who are not breastfed. Breastfeeding is safe even after just receiving the flu vaccine.