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Medical oddity: People born in October are least likely to get the flu

Researchers have identified an unlikely connection between a child’s birth month and their flu vaccination and diagnosis rates in the United States. This investigation has revealed a significant pattern: children born in October are not only more likely to receive their flu shots in a timely manner but also show a lower incidence of flu diagnoses compared to their peers born in other months.

The study’s findings underscore the importance of birth month in determining the timing of flu vaccinations and the subsequent risk of influenza diagnosis.

It emphasizes that children born in October receive the most timely vaccinations, aligning perfectly with current health guidelines recommending flu shots during September or October.

October birthdays and flu vaccinations

This timing is strategic, aimed at bolstering immunity ahead of the flu season’s peak to safeguard young children who are particularly vulnerable to the flu and its severe complications, potentially necessitating hospital admission.

Researchers embarked on this study to identify the most effective timing for flu vaccinations among young children.

By analyzing health insurance claims data, they tracked over 800,000 children aged 2-5 years who were vaccinated against influenza from August 1 to January 31 during the years 2011-2018.

The analysis focused on comparing the rates of flu diagnoses among these children based on their birth month.

Accounting for various factors that could influence the outcomes, such as age, sex, pre-existing conditions, healthcare utilization, and family size, the researchers discovered that October emerged as the most common month for administering vaccinations.

Notably, children born in October also exhibited the lowest rate of flu diagnosis. For instance, while the average rate of flu diagnosis among children born in August was 3%, this rate dropped to 2.7% for those born in October and was slightly higher at 2.9% for December-born children.

Considerations and implications

It’s important to note that this observational study focused on insured children who had access to medical care, which might limit the generalizability of the findings.

Additionally, the researchers acknowledged the potential for other, unmeasured factors to influence the results.

However, further analyses to test the strength of the relationship between birth month and flu risk lent additional credibility to their conclusions.

Reflecting on their findings, the researchers advocate for targeted public health interventions to vaccinate young children in October, aiming to provide optimal protection against the flu in typical seasons.

This recommendation aligns with existing guidelines that promote October as the ideal month for flu vaccinations.

In summary, this study reinforces the current vaccination timing guidelines and highlights the potential benefits of scheduling flu vaccinations based on a child’s birth month.

As flu season approaches, parents, caregivers, and healthcare providers should consider these insights to ensure young children receive the best possible protection against influenza.

The full study was published in the journal The BMJ.


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