Findings from a recent study published in Influenza and Other Respiratory Viruses reveals that getting the flu vaccine does not reduce the number of school days missed by children who get influenza. The conclusion of the study questions how often the flu vaccine actually prevents severe type A or type B influenza among children between the ages of five to 17 years old.
Previous studies have reported lower absenteeism rates among vaccinated children. However, those studies assessed school-aged children suffering from any acute respiratory illness (ARI). This is the first study to specifically examine school absenteeism rates caused by lab confirmed influenza.1
Between 2012 and 2015, children that went to the Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation in Wisconsin to seek care for an ARI were lab tested for influenza. Children that were tested positive for influenza were surveyed a week later regarding their vaccination status and the number of school days they had missed.1
The study’s results show that, “Among 1027 children, 2295 days of school were missed due to medically attended ARIs; influenza accounted for 39% of illness episodes and 47% of days missed. Mean days absent were highest for influenza (0.96-1.19) and lowest for coronavirus (0.62).”2
The study’s lead author Huong McLean, PhD, MPH, stated that between 30 to 40% of children that were tested positive for influenza had received a flu shot.1 She added, “Our study confirms that flu is a major contributor to absenteeism, and vaccination status did not reduce this.”1
1 Soucheray S. Study: Flu Vaccine Doesn’t Prevent Missed School Days. Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy Nov. 30, 2016.
2 McLean H, Peterson S, King J, Meece J, Belongia E. School Absenteeism among School-Aged Children with Medically Attended Acute Viral Respiratory Illness during Three Influenza Seasons, 2012-2013 through 2014-2015. Influenza and Other Respiratory Viruses 2016.