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With spring here and summer right around the corner, it’s understandable how certain health-related issues with direct ties to the winter are not exactly on the radar of many Americans.
While this is certainly understandable, a recently released study by researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the University of Louisville reveals that at least one of these health risks — influenza — is not exactly on their radar during the winter months either, particularly among those whose children are at an elevated risk of flu complications.
What did this study examine?
The study in question set out to determine whether children diagnosed with neurological or neurodevelopmental disorders such as cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, intellectual disability or epilepsy received a flu shot in 2014.
Why exactly is this significant?
In general, the CDC advises everyone six months and older to get a flu shot every year. However, there are certain populations that the agency specifically targets given their elevated risk of developing potentially deadly flu-related complications. One such at-risk population is children with these NNDDs.
What did the study find concerning children with NNDDs and flu vaccination rates?
Somewhat surprisingly, the researchers determined that a mere 50 percent of children with NNDDs had been vaccinated against the flu, putting it on par with the number of healthy children who had been vaccinated against the flu, which was roughly 47 percent.
Did the study make any other interesting findings?
Yes, the study determined that many physicians were unaware of the elevated risk of potentially deadly flu-related complications for children diagnosed with certain NNDDs.
Specifically, the researchers found that while 74 percent of 412 surveyed physicians understood that flu was a bigger threat for children with cerebral palsy, a mere 51 percent knew that flu was a bigger threat for children with epilepsy while only 46 percent knew that flu was a bigger threat for children with an intellectual disability.
The researchers concluded by suggesting that parents and physicians alike are in need of better education concerning the risks associated with flu.
Here’s hoping we see that happen and that these otherwise impermissible gaps in knowledge on the part of physicians don’t result in harm to any pediatric patients.