Why Kids Are Much More Vulnerable To The Effects Of The Flu

When discussing the topic of influenza for some, it's a minor virus that's so common that it's hardly even noteworthy. For others, influenza is a microscopic killer that needs to be stopped in its tracks. For most of us, however, the influenza virus falls somewhere in between.

Still, the CDC reports that "more than 200,000 people in the United States are hospitalized each year for respiratory and heart conditions illnesses associated with influenza virus infection." Of those hospitalized, most are children. Children under five are said to be at the greatest risk for hospitalization.

What is it about kids that make them more likely to not only contract the flu but also more likely to suffer its harsh effects? The main reasons are hygiene practices and an underdeveloped immune system. Kids are notorious for sneezing and coughing on just about everyone and everything they come in contact with when they get sick (a lucky break for influenza). They also haven't had much life experience yet to build up much of an immune system. So when they do get sick, it typically hits them harder than it hits adults.

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NBC News reports that in the United States alone, 110 children died from influenza during the 2017-2018 flu season. Of those 110 children, 80 percent of them were not vaccinated because their parents either chose not to give them the flu vaccine or they had an adverse reaction to a previous one. To put that into perspective, most of the 88 of those children who died could have had a better chance at surviving if they had a base immune response already in place and ready to fight. (Although the flu vaccine, or any vaccine, is never a 100% immunity guarantee.)

Going back to the separate views that people have when they think of the words "flu" or "influenza", the scientific facts are that influenza can kill. It's more likely to kill children than older generations, and the flu vaccine decreases the chances of contracting the actual strains. Kids are more likely to spread the virus to other people, so it's always a good idea to teach your children good hygiene practices to help reduce its circulation rate. Also, getting the yearly flu vaccine will not only prevent you or someone you love from getting ill, but it will also help to protect those who are too young, immuno-compromised, or have adverse reactions to the vaccine.


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