OBJECTIVES

Antivirals are recommended for children hospitalized with influenza but are underutilized. We describe antiviral prescribing during influenza admissions in Canadian pediatric centers and identify factors associated with antiviral use.

METHODS

We performed active surveillance for laboratory-confirmed influenza hospitalizations among children ≤16 years old at the 12 Canadian Immunization Monitoring Program Active hospitals, from 2010–2011 to 2018–2019. Logistic regression analyses were used to identify factors associated with antiviral use.

RESULTS

Among 7545 patients, 57.4% were male; median age was 3 years (interquartile range: 1.1–6.3). Overall, 41.3% received antiviral agents; 72.8% received antibiotics. Antiviral use varied across sites (range, 10.2% to 81.1%) and influenza season (range, 19.9% to 59.6%) and was more frequent in children with ≥1 chronic health condition (52.7% vs 36.7%; P < .001). On multivariable analysis, factors associated with antiviral use included older age (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 1.04 [95% confidence interval (CI), 1.02–1.05]), more recent season (highest aOR 9.18 [95% CI, 6.70–12.57] for 2018–2019), admission during peak influenza period (aOR 1.37 [95% CI, 1.19–1.58]), availability of local treatment guideline (aOR 1.54 [95% CI, 1.17–2.02]), timing of laboratory confirmation (highest aOR 2.67 [95% CI, 1.97–3.61] for result available before admission), presence of chronic health conditions (highest aOR 4.81 [95% CI, 3.61–6.40] for cancer), radiographically confirmed pneumonia (aOR 1.39 [95% CI, 1.20–1.60]), antibiotic treatment (aOR 1.51 [95% CI, 1.30–1.76]), respiratory support (1.57 [95% CI, 1.19–2.08]), and ICU admission (aOR 3.62 [95% CI, 2.88–4.56]).

CONCLUSIONS

Influenza antiviral agents were underused in Canadian pediatric hospitals, including among children with high-risk chronic health conditions. Prescribing varied considerably across sites, increased over time, and was associated with patient and hospital-level characteristics. Multifaceted hospital-based interventions are warranted to strengthen adherence to influenza treatment guidelines and antimicrobial stewardship practices.

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