Study: Flu vaccines slowing down hospitalizations

Half of all people who had their flu shot had less illness and emergency room visits compared to those not vaxxed.

FARGO, N.D. (KVRR) — The CDC reports this latest flu vaccine has reduced hospitalizations among children by nearly three quarters and nearly half of all adults.

“It’s transmitted by little droplets, water droplets that go through the air and you don’t necessarily have to see them or see the sneeze in the light as it’s coming towards you. You could still have it transmitted and I think anyone who’s had influenza in the house knows how quickly it could spread,” says Jeremiah Johnson, an Infectious Disease Nurse Practitioner at Sanford Health.

It’s the first time that estimates of flu vaccine effectiveness were available this early using three different networks, showing early flu activity this season.

An expert at Sanford Health says the higher numbers are a result of more people coming back to their daily routines after the pandemic.

“I don’t know if there’s anything special about this year but this is the first time that we’ve had a full calendar year where people are out and mingling since some of the quarantines associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Because of that, we’re seeing higher rates of respiratory viruses across the board. So, because we have more of those numbers available, I think you’re seeing a little bit higher efficacy in the statistics,” Johnson says.

Johnson adds the groups high at-risk for hospitalization from the flu are children under five years old, anyone over 65 and those with a weakened immune system.

“For those people that are high-risk, it could result in death and that’s obviously our concern and what we’re trying to prevent. At the very least, for younger and healthier people of a middle-age type range, it could still result in pretty serious pneumonia that can keep you late up for some time. The purpose of the vaccine is, yes, we want to prevent hospitalizations and people dying but mostly we also want to be able to keep you with your family, keep you at work and not be worried about a serious respiratory infection,” Johnson says.

According to the New Vaccine Surveillance Network, Vaccine Effectiveness against the flu was 45 percent among children, which is typically around 30 percent.

The higher effectiveness is likely because the vaccine had good immunity against a variety of viruses circulating in the past three years.

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