Interesting study in today’s Science Times on flu shots and preschoolers. (Science Times is one of my favorite sites – new edition every Tuesday at NYTimes.com – click on ‘Science’ and it takes you there). Researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital compared preschooler emergency room visits for flu-like symptoms in Boston and Montreal, from 2000-2008 (big study: 114,657 ER visits). Reason for the study: the U.S. started recommending flu shots for 2-4 year-olds in 2006, and Canada didn’t require them until 2010. How big an impact did the U.S recommendation make?
Results? From 2006 on, ER visits for flu-like symptoms in 2- to 4 year-olds were 34% lower in Boston than Montreal. ER visits for 5- to 18 year-olds were 18% lower than in Montreal, too, probably because the older kids were protected by the younger kids’ flu shots. The Science Times blurb doesn’t mention hospitalization and complications (like pneumonia) but I assume those were lower, too.