Two reports this week showed the flu vaccine may not be effective in preventing health problems in children.
One study revealed that flu shots in the past two seasons did not reduce doctor visits or the risk of hospitalization for flu in children age 5 and younger. Another showed that MRSA, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (a sometimes fatal drug-resistant bacteria that can accompany the flu), as opposed to the flu itself, is a main contributor to the growing number of child deaths attributed to influenza.
The first study suggested that a reason the vaccine did not prevent children from getting the flu was that the strains in the flu vaccines have mismatched the circulating flu strain in past years.
MRSA is a drug-resistant superbug that can piggyback on the flu and can cause outbreaks of deadly pneumonia. Secondary infections increase the risk of death from the flu more often than the flu itself.