The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) just published a report on the results of an on-line study they did during the 2011-2012 influenza season regarding vaccination rates for children with neurologic and neurodevelopmental conditions. Shockingly, the report indicated that only HALF of children surveyed were vaccinated or had an appointment to be vaccinated and out of those children who indicated they had an intellectual disability it was only slightly better at 52%. Numbers like this are alarming due to when you consider the 2009 flu outbreak in which 336 children died. Of those, 146 were children with neurologic or neurodevelopmental conditions (76% indicating they had an intellectual disability).
The majority of families rely and trust their physician to provide them with information, expertise and advice on what is best for their child to keep them healthy. However, the study also found that even after this outbreak occurred many physicians still do not rate children with an intellectual disability as being at a high risk and needing the vaccination.
According to the CDC bulletin a child with an intellectual or developmental disability that requires special needs is at a higher risk than others due to the fact that they are more susceptible to developing complications and infections from the flu virus. These complications can include pneumonia, bronchitis, and can also increase the effects of already current chronic health problems. These complications can lead to hospitalization and in severe cases death.
While every parent has the right to choose whether to get their child vaccinated or not, studies like this will help to increase awareness of prevention and knowledge of parents and physicians to help them to make more informed decisions.
As fall rolls in and the flu season quickly approaches you can visit the HealthMap Vaccine Finder if you need help finding a location in your area to get vaccinated.