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Many kids with disabilities do not get flu shots

As a new school year begins for kids, parents may worry about new routines, homework assignments and friendships that their kids make. They may also be concerned about keeping them healthy, since it is almost inevitable for kids to get sick during the school year. 

Flu shots are a large part of a health plan. However, a recent report indicates that only half of children with disabilities receive flu vaccinations. Yesterday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report which indicated that many children with cerebral palsy, and other intellectual disabilities do not get vaccinated each year. 

CDC researchers surveyed 1,000 parents with intellectual disabilities and other neurologic orders as well as 400 physicians who treat disabled children. They found that the overall rate of vaccination matches that of children who are not disabled. However, the complications from influenza that befall disabled children can be much worse. Kids with cerebral palsy and epilepsy were especially at risk of being hospitalized or even dying as a result of the flu. This is especially important in the aftermath of the 2009 H1N1 virus. The CDC reported that a disproportionate number of children with neurological disorders that did not receive flu shots died as a result of the virus.

Moreover, researchers found that doctors do not commonly inform parents of disabled children of the high risks associated with the flu. Nevertheless, doctors (and the CDC) recommend that all children, regardless of disability, should receive flu shots.

Source: DisabilityScoop.com, CDC: Half of kids with disabilities skip flu shots, September 13, 2013

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