This past flu season's toll on children was the most severe that federal health officials have ever seen.
A record number of children died from the flu during the 2017-2018 flu season, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Friday.
Approximately 80 percent of the 172 child deaths were among children who didn't receive flu vaccinations, officials said, and about half were among children with a pre-existing health condition. Most children died within a week of contracting symptoms. It was the deadliest year on record, surpassing the previous maximum in 2012-2013.
This year had an unusual number of consecutive weeks when children were reported to be hospitalized at a high rate for flu symptoms. The data excludes pandemics, like when the H1N1 swine flu outbreak killed 282 children in 2009, said the CDC.
NBC News reports that the flu kills anywhere between 12,000 and 49,000 people every year. The most recent flu season was particularly deadly in part because of ineffective vaccines, but researchers are still unsure of the exact reason for such a severe year. One thing scientists are sure of, though, is that a flu vaccine can make all the difference: "Annual influenza vaccination remains the most effective way to prevent influenza illness," advised the CDC. Read more at NBC News.