A St. Jude study published in the Journal of Pediatrics showed that young leukemia patients who were vaccinated against influenza were just as likely as their unvaccinated peers to develop flu.
The study looked at rates of flu infection during three flu seasons in 498 St. Jude patients being treated for acute leukemia. Researchers found the patients who received flu shots had almost identical rates of flu and flu-like illness as patients who were not vaccinated.
Doctors still recommend the annual flu shot for children with acute leukemia.
“The results highlight the need for additional research in this area and for us to redouble our efforts to protect our patients through other means,” said Elisabeth Adderson, MD, of St. Jude Infectious Diseases.
Along with good hand hygiene, Adderson said at-risk patients should avoid crowds during the flu season. Patients may also benefit from “cocooning,” a process that focuses on getting family members, health care providers and others in close contact with at-risk patients vaccinated.