Flu jabs cut complications in children with pneumonia

Flu jabs can help prevent children who contract pneumonia from developing life-threatening complications, a study suggests.

US researchers used data from 40 children’s hospitals across the USA to examine outcomes among children with complicated pneumonia who also have influenza infections. Clinical outcomes among such children is known to be particularly bad if the causative bacterium for the pneumonia is Staphylococcus aureus.

The study included young people aged 18 years and under who required pleural drainage for complicated pneumonia. Of the 3,382 children with complicated pneumonia in the study, influenza co-infection was found in 105 (3.1%).

A bacterial pathogen was identified in 1,201 cases (35.5%). In children with influenza co-infection, the most common bacteria were S aureus (22.9% of cases). In children without influenza co-infection, S pneumoniae were the most common (20.0% of cases).

Influenza co-infection was associated with a greater risk of intensive care unit admission, mechanical ventilation, vasoactive infusions, and blood product transfusions. These led to higher costs and a longer hospital stay and higher mortality.

The researchers said the study showed that S aureus may contribute disproportionately to complicated pneumonia associated morbidity. ‘Our findings underscore the importance of routine influenza vaccination for children,’ they said.

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