Liz Szabo and Elizabeth Weise, USA TODAY
The flu has claimed the lives of 105 children this season, says a report out today from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Last year, a very mild year for flu, only 34 children died but this year the deaths were more in line with a typical year. Flu seasons vary greatly in severity. In the 2003-2004 season 153 children died, according to CDC numbers.
This year's grim toll is a reminder that "influenza vaccination is important for all children, not just children with high risk conditions," said Michael Jhung, a medical officer in CDC's Influenza Division, in a statement. While this season's flu vaccine was not particularly effective in those over 65, it worked well in children, he emphasized.
"Vaccination is still the single most important weapon that we have against flu," said Jhung. About 90% of those children weren't vaccinated against influenza, according to the CDC, which recommends annual flu shots for everyone over age 6 months. Overall, 52% of all American kids got flu shots this year.
Of the children who died this year, 60% were at high risk from flu complications, due to chronic illness, the rest were healthy kids, the CDC said.