New Study Shows Flu Vaccination Cut Urgent Care and Emergency Department Visits and Hospitalizations in Kids by Nearly Half

child with health care professional and parent smiling with text: #figtflu and cdc logo

November 20, 2023— A new study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases estimates that influenza (flu) vaccination reduced the risk of flu-related emergency department and urgent care visits and hospitalizations by almost half (40-48%) among children and adolescents during the 2022-2023 season. While people who are vaccinated can still get sick, they are better able to avoid serious outcomes than people who have not been vaccinated. CDC recommends that everyone 6 months and older get a seasonal flu vaccine each year. With flu activity low but increasing, now is still a good time to get vaccinated.

Data for this study were collected in the VISION Vaccine Effectiveness (VE) Network, a research collaboration between CDC, Westat, and multiple sites with integrated clinical, laboratory, and vaccination records in the United States. The network looks at how well seasonal flu and COVID-19 vaccines are protecting people against moderate-to-severe illness.

The 2022-2023 flu season saw the highest rates of flu-related hospitalizations in children since the 2009 H1N1 pandemic. Flu vaccine coverage among children last season was about 6 percentage points lower than it was prior to the pandemic. Higher hospitalization rates could reflect drops in vaccine coverage, but also the fact that last year the flu season began unusually early, and many kids who got sick had not yet had a chance to get vaccinated.

Strong vaccine recommendations from clinicians and healthcare providers can help parents make the decision to get their children a flu vaccine. Parents can help children fight flu by getting them vaccinated against flu each year.

Children younger than 5 years old – especially those younger than 2 – are at higher risk of developing serious flu-related complications. Children of any age with certain chronic health conditions are also at higher risk. During the 2022-2023 flu season, 66 percent of children (people younger than 18 years) who were hospitalized with flu in one of CDC’s surveillance networks had at least one underlying health condition, such as asthma, neurologic disease, obesity, or a weakened immune system.

Flu takes a serious toll on the health of children every season in the United States. During the 2022-2023 flu season,  that there were over 12 million influenza virus infections in children and nearly seven million flu-related medical visits. CDC also estimates that almost 50,000 children were hospitalized with flu illness during the 2022-2023 season. A flu vaccine has been shown to reduce the risk of flu illness by 40% to 60%, but even if your child still gets sick with flu, getting a flu vaccine can reduce illness severity, helping to prevent more serious flu-related outcomes.

Parents can help protect their kids by getting them a flu vaccine. Find a flu vaccine at

VISION Network is a collaboration between CDC, Westat (a company that consults with government and private-sector entities in research, data collection and analysis, technical assistance, evaluation, and communications) and multiple partners that collect information on acute respiratory illness-associated medical encounters across care settings (such as urgent care, emergency department, and hospital settings).