Influenza: vaccination essential in children with neurologic disorders

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Takeaway

  • Although influenza vaccination remains the best tool for protecting at-risk children with neurologic disorders, uptake remains suboptimal.
  • The 2017-2018 influenza season is comparable with peak levels of the 2009 influenza pandemic, which was associated with significant numbers of influenza-related complications and deaths in children with underlying neurologic disorders.

Why this matters

  • Children with neurologic disorders are at high risk for influenza-related complications, making vaccination of them and their siblings critical.
  • Clinicians should offer influenza vaccination at routine and immunization office visits, especially in vulnerable pediatric populations >6 months of age.

Key results

  • Study of children with neurologic disorders (n=184,460), their siblings (n=204,960), and a general pediatric sample (n=4,697,486).
  • Epilepsy was the most common disorder (136,240 person-years [74%] with isolated epilepsy).
  • Overall, 34.6% of children with neurologic disorders vs 28.1% siblings or 23.8% of general pediatric population were vaccinated (P<.01>
  • Vaccination lowest among children with epilepsy (30.9%).
  • Vaccination coverage in children with neurologic disorders increased from 22.4% (2006-2007) to 42.3% (2013-2014), but declined with age and was lowest in children aged 10-17 years.

Study design

  • Retrospective cohort analysis evaluating influenza vaccination coverage among commercially insured US children with neurologic disorders and their siblings.
  • Funding: CDC.

Limitations

  • Nongeneralizable findings.
  • Inaccurate diagnostic coding and inconsistent code practices.