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Between 2004 and 2008, annual influenza vaccine recommendations were gradually expanded to include all children aged 6 months or older.

In the Pediatrics study, “Influenza-Related Hospitalizations and ED Visits in Children Less Than 5 Years: 2000-2011​,” from the January 2015 issue, researchers studied vaccine uptake and influenza-related hospital visits among children age 6 months to 59 months from the 2000-2001 flu season through the 2010-2011 flu season in Davidson County, Tenn. Davidson is an urban county that includes Nashville and has a total population of about 600,000.

Overall influenza coverage remained low (≤50 percent) in children under 5 years. Influenza vaccine coverage increased slowly from 2004-2005, and was highest in 2010-2011, when 38 percent of enrolled children were fully vaccinated. An exception was the low uptake during the 2009-2010 pandemic year, when the influenza A (H1N1) vaccine was not available until late in the season. The estimated number of flu-related hospitalizations ranged from a high of 60 to a low of 7 annually, with the highest rates seen in 2003-2004 when influenza A (H3N2) dominated. The annual number of ED visits ranged from a high of 2,324 to a low of 352 visits.

Study authors conclude that although influenza vaccinations increased over time, rates remain low and influenza still causes a substantial burden of serious illness in young children. Continuing evaluation of data is needed to accurately assess the impact of influenza vaccine recommendations in children.

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