As it become autumn in Ohio, with cooler days and nights, hinting at the winter that will follow, so to comes another season of influenza. Many people consider the flu an inconvenient disease that may cause them or their children to miss a day or two from work or school. The influenza virus, however, is not always a minor illness, and each flu season, thousand die from complications triggered by the virus.
For our clients who have children who qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) because of neurologic or neurodevelopmental (NND) conditions or an intellectually disability, the threat presented by the influenza virus is anything but minor.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that 146 of 336 children who died during the 2009 flu season had neurologic disorders.
A report from the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), looking at the 2011-2012 influenza season, found that only half of these children receive a flu vaccination.
The parents of these children look to their health providers for guidance and advice when treating their children. According to the MMWR, one reason for the poor vaccination record may be caused by doctors failing to recognize the risk these children face from influenza, and failing to recommend vaccinations to prevent the flu.
Only 45 percent of doctors reported intellectual disability was a high risk factor for influenza infection. Even doctors who typically cared for children with NND conditions were no more likely to recognize intellectual disability as a high-risk condition.
Because of the elevated risk of complications due to influenza, the CDC recommends that all high-risk children receive an influenza vaccination.
Source: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Influenza Vaccination Practices of Physicians and Caregivers of Children with Neurologic and Neurodevelopmental Conditions — United States, 2011–12 Influenza Season,” September 13, 2013