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CDC: Getting A Flu Shot Significantly Reduces Child's Risk of Dying From Disease

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- The flu vaccine saves children's lives, according to new research.

A new study from the CDC shows getting a flu shot significantly reduces a child's risk of dying from the flu.

Flu season usually starts to wind down in April but we still have a few pockets of flu in our area. In terms of pediatric deaths, the CDC says 61 children have been killed by influenza.

One New Jersey family knows just how dangerous the illness can be.

Jennifer Miller cherishes spending time with her daughter Caroline after almost losing her in 2012. Late that December, Jennifer thought her 5-year-old was having an asthma attack.

"I was breathing really loudly... like it was kind of hard to breathe," said Caroline Miller.

She was diagnosed with flu and pneumonia. Within 36 hours, she was on a ventilator and fighting for her life. The Millers usually got annual flu shots - but life was busy and they just didn't get around to it.

"It's tremendous guilt," said mother Jennifer Miller. "She couldn't make her own appointment. That was my responsibility."

A new study in the Journal Pediatrics shows the majority of children who die from the flu are not vaccinated. Researchers studied 291 pediatric flu deaths between 2010 and 2014.

3/4 of the children who died did not have the vaccine, and 2/3 of kids with underlying health problems were not vaccinated.

"Those children are more likely to have severe influenza if they do get sick and more likely to die," said Dr. Brendan Flannery, Epidemiologist, Influenza Division, CDC.

Jennifer's daughter suffers from mild asthma.

"Not getting her flu shot was by far the greatest parenting mistake and really the greatest mistake I have ever made in my life," said Jennifer.

She now works with the group Families Fighting Flu and has made it her mission to make sure this doesn't happen to other families.

It's recommended that everyone 6 months and older get an annual flu vaccine in the fall,  and even though vaccination rates are low, doctors say this flu wasn't as bad as years past.

But there were some bad pockets of flu, including in Delaware where there were 11 flu-related deaths.

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