Pediatr Infect Dis J. 2023 Sep 7. doi: 10.1097/INF.0000000000004090. Online ahead of print.
BACKGROUND: In Europe, influenza vaccination coverage in the pediatric population is low. This study describes the influenza incidence and associated healthcare utilization in the pediatric population in Italy.
METHODS: Deidentified data from electronic medical records for children 0-14 years old seen by >150 family pediatricians in the Pedianet network in Italy were evaluated for 10 influenza seasons spanning 2010-2020. Incidence of influenza (cases per 1000 person-months), related sequelae and associated healthcare resource use were determined using diagnostic, prescription and medical examination data.
RESULTS: Over 10 seasons, an average of 8892 influenza cases (range, 4700-12,419; total 88,921) were diagnosed in a cohort of 1,432,384 children 0-14 years of age. Influenza vaccination coverage was 3.6% among children with an influenza diagnosis and 6.8% among children without. Influenza-related healthcare resource utilization included 1.58 family pediatrician visits per influenza episode and 220 ED and 111 hospital admissions, with the highest resource usage among children 1-4 years and lowest among children <6 months old. The most common influenza complications were acute otitis media (2.9% of influenza cases) and pneumonia (0.5%). Antibiotics were prescribed in 38.7% of influenza cases; no antiviral agents were prescribed. One intensive care unit admission and 2 cases requiring ventilatory support were documented. No influenza-related deaths were reported.
CONCLUSION: Pediatric influenza vaccination was low despite the burden and healthcare use related to seasonal influenza in the pediatric population during a 10-year period in Italy.