Missing the Flu Diagnosis in Kids Just Another Excuse for a Vaccine
July 22, 2006
Flu infections in young children are often missed by doctors, a new study reports. The diagnosis was missed in four out of five preschoolers treated for flu symptoms at a doctor's office or emergency room, and in about three-quarters of those who were hospitalized.
During the four-year study, the researchers conducted their own lab tests on children who saw doctors for symptoms such as cough, runny nose and fever.
Only 28 percent of hospitalized flu cases and 17 percent of those who visited a doctor or emergency room were diagnosed with the flu. Other diagnoses included asthma, pneumonia and general viral illness.
The researchers, two of which received grant support and consulting fees from MedImmune Inc., the maker of a spray flu vaccine, said using a rapid flu test more often could detect more cases of flu and help prevent its spread. Further, one-third of the children could have taken a drug like Tamiflu to ease their symptoms.
The results were presented to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) panel, which recommended expanding 2006 flu shots for children between the ages of 2 and 5; flu shots are already recommended for children aged 6-23 months.
Contaminated Flu Vaccines?
Meanwhile, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning letter to drug maker Sanofi Pasteur after the company reported that some batches of its flu vaccine, manufactured in Swiftwater, Pennsylvania, failed sterility tests.
The FDA inspected the plant and said none of the affected material was used in making vaccine. However, because the source of contamination could not be determined, there is no way to be sure the problem was corrected, thus prompting the warning letter.
Sanofi Pasteur is expected to manufacture 50 million doses, or about half, of flu vaccine for the United States in 2006.