New Canadian research has found that children who have been vaccinated against influenza, also known as flu, are significantly less likely to end up in hospital because of the virus.
Carried out by researchers from Public Health Ontario (PHO) and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES), together the team looked at 9,982 Ontario hospital records of children aged six months to just under five years old.
The team looked at four influenza seasons and grouped the children's records according to those who were fully vaccinated, partially vaccinated (such as those who received one dose of influenza vaccine during their first influenza season), and those who didn't get the vaccine.
"Influenza can cause serious illness, especially in young children, but there hasn't been a lot of research that has examined the magnitude of the influenza vaccine's effectiveness at preventing kids from getting really sick and being hospitalized," explained Dr. Jeff Kwong, the senior author of the research paper.
The team found that young children who were fully vaccinated against influenza were significantly less likely to experience serious complications from the virus that could lead to hospitalization.
Overall, fully vaccinated children aged two- to four-years-old saw their risk of hospitalization due to influenza drop by 67 percent while those aged six to 23 months saw their risk drop by 48 percent.
Even for children partially vaccinated against influenza, the risk of hospitalization dropped by 39 percent.
"These results show that flu vaccines are effective at preventing influenza hospitalizations in young kids, and this extended to those who received their vaccination in two consecutive seasons," commented lead author of the paper Sarah Buchan, "This contributes to the evidence that this group should be receiving their seasonal vaccine annually to prevent such serious outcomes."
The findings can be found published online in the journal PLOS ONE.