Stories about: preschoolers

Does vaccinating preschoolers for the flu make a difference? A natural experiment says, “Yes!”

Preschoolers are often the first to catch the flu every year. Vaccinating children in this age group may help the whole family avoid the flu. (Luke & Courtney Barrett/Flickr)

When anyone in my house gets a cold or other bug, often we all look at my three-year old son, the one in preschool, and ask, “What did you bring home?” While it may seem unfair, our reaction reflects the conventional wisdom: That children of preschool age are often the vector for the colds, flu, sniffles, coughs, stomach bugs, etc., that make their way through the family every year.

Science does bear this out, especially with regards to the flu. A 2005 study by Children’s Hospital Boston researchers strongly suggested that otherwise healthy 3 and 4 year olds were prime drivers of flu epidemics, often displaying flu-like symptoms as early as late September.

Acknowledging preschoolers’ increased risk of getting sick from the flu, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) – the national body that sets vaccination policies in the U.S. – updated its influenza vaccine recommendations in 2006 to include vaccination of children between ages 2 and 4. Now, John Brownstein, who leads the Computational Epidemiology Group in the Children’s Hospital Informatics Program (CHIP) and took part in the 2005 study, demonstrates that the policy change has had quite an effect.

Read Full Story | Leave a Comment