The risk of death from influenza for children ages 0-4 is very low, with an average of about 35 deaths per year (see Disease Risk – Influenza). There are more than 200 known viruses and other pathogens that cause a suite of symptoms known as “influenza-like illness”, and the vaccine only targets 3 strains of influenza virus (see Does the Vaccine Matter?).Influenza cases are dramatically over-counted by the CDC, with one 2009 CBS investigation showing that 83-93% of “swine flu” cases were confirmed in laboratory testing to not be swine flu or any other kind of flu.
Many flu vaccines still contain thimerosal, a mercury-based preservative (see SafeMinds Mercury-free Vaccine Project). A long and growing list of scientific research, including animal research, indicates that thimerosal in vaccines is harmful (see Thimerosal Science Summary). A 2009 study found that children who get the flu vaccine have 3x risk of hospitalization for the flu, and that children with asthma who received the flu vaccine were at much higher risk of hospitalization.
The influenza vaccine has been shown to be ineffective for children under the age of two (see Do Flu Vaccines Work for Toddlers?), and there is no convincing evidence that the influenza vaccine reduces hospitalizations and deaths amongst children age 0 – 4 (see Disease Risk – Influenza).
Given the low risk from the disease, the potential for vaccine-injury and increased hospitalization, and the lack of convincing evidence that the influenza vaccine is effective, a parent might consider whether the benefits of this vaccine are worth the risks.