After the CDC lowered the flu shot age recommendation to include 2- to 4-year-olds in 2006, hospitals saw a drastic decline in emergency room visits for flu-like illnesses, according to a study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. And the benefits of those extra shots affected older children as well.
Researchers compared emergency room data from a Boston hospital to one in Montreal--which doesn't recommend flu shots for that age range. They found a 34% reduction in visits for influenza-like illnesses from 2- to 4-year-olds, and up to an 18% decline in visits from age groups under 19. Such visits account for over 10% of emergency room visits.
"It is possible that part of the reason for the decline that we observed in the nontarget age groups was due to reductions in household and community transmission from preschool-aged children to their contacts," the authors said, as quoted by MedPage Today.
The CDC has since recommended that children as young as 6 months be vaccinated against seasonal flu.