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The Flu and Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs (CYSHCN)
October 15, 2013It’s that time of year again…. Flu Season!

That means it is time for families to take steps to make sure everybody in the household is as protected as possible. Flu is serious business. Each year many children get the flu, and some of those children die from it. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), each year an average of 20,000 children under the age of 5 are hospitalized because of complications from the flu. Children and youth with special health care needs or disabilities are particularly vulnerable.

CDC recently conducted a survey of families about their knowledge and experience with the flu. Family Voices worked with the CDC to develop the survey and to help distribute the survey through the Family-to-Family Health Information Centers and Family Voices State Affiliate Organizations.

Key findings relevant to CYSHCN include:

  • Only half of children with neurologic and neurodevelopmental conditions are vaccinated against the flu each year.
  • Families view their child’s doctor as the main source of information about the flu.
  • Many pediatricians do not recognize intellectual disability as a high-risk condition for the flu.

Last year, according to the CDC, 64% of children with underlying health conditions who died from the flu had a neurologic disorder or neurodevelopmental condition.

What Can Families Do?

  • Learn about the complications of the flu for CYSHCN.
  • Take steps to prevent avoidable illness.
  • Share information and concerns with child care providers.

Follow the CDC Guidelines!

  • Anybody over 6 months of age should receive the flu shot.
  • Babies under age 6 months are too young to receive the flu shot, so it is important for all other family members to get vaccinated.
  • Take precautions to keep germs from spreading.

For More Information
Family Voices has developed fact sheets, posters, and other materials in English and Spanish about the flu and children and youth with special health care needs or disabilities. Check them out here:


Please Share this Message!As part of Family Voices Project IMPACT’s focus on health and wellness, we’re bringing you family-friendly information and resources to share with families and professional partners.


 Family Voices IMPACT (Improving Maternal and Child Health Policies so All Children Thrive) Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)/Maternal Child Health Bureau (MCHB) #UC4MC21535
Family Voices  3701 San Mateo Blvd NE, Suite 103 Albuquerque, New Mexico 87110
(505) 872-4774


Tony Paulauski
Executive Director
The Arc of Illinois
20901 S. LaGrange Rd. Suite 209
Frankfort, IL 60423
815-464-1832 (OFFICE)
815-464-1832 (CELL)