Written by By Max Cacas, CNN
(CNN) — A large new study published Thursday says that most childhood vaccinations may actually do more good than harm, leaving parents less anxious and vaccinating children less often.
The study, in the New England Journal of Medicine, says that while flu vaccines have gained a lot of attention for their ability to prevent disease, they have also been proven to bolster immunity to colds and illness caused by respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).
RSV is a common childhood cold, but it can cause a variety of stomach, breathing and brain problems in an older child or infant.
A doctor with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Division of Childhood Vaccines and Immunization, Dr. Anne Schuchat, said RSV vaccinations may be of interest to some parents, as the nasal spray form is more easily administered than shots.
“Staggering rates of RSV disease remain in the United States and vaccination of children is a particularly important strategy to control this infection,” Schuchat said. “In the U.S., one out of four hospitalized children have RSV-related complications.”
The study, conducted by doctors at the CDC, showed that, in several states, children had a 98% or greater likelihood of developing protection against RSV by getting both vaccines. In California, there was a 90% protection in children who had gotten only a flu shot and 92% protection in children who had had both types of vaccines.
Dr. Carl Culler of Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center helped lead the study and says that parents, especially with the flu vaccines, now have good information.
“You can have both without any issues,” he said. “No one knows how much you can get of both. To get 100% protection against a disease in your children you’ve got to get two shots.”
Culler agrees that some parents still won’t get their children vaccinated, but says the study offers hope.
“This is a very good study, and I hope it will contribute to recommendations to flu vaccine and to RSV vaccine,” he said.
Last month, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention set aside time for nearly 3,000 people to get vaccinated in Chicago. A spokeswoman for the CDC said the idea is to keep the conversation going and that the vaccination could help curb the rise of highly contagious flu illness.
And the CDC says an estimated 89,000 children will die from influenza this year.
“Our immune system needs two shots to defeat influenza,” Schuchat said. “And with multiple doses, it takes two shots. So you’re not being redundant.”