Influenza immunization for children

The American Academy of Pediatrics has issued this year’s policy statement recommending annual influenza immunization for all people six months of age and older.

Children under age two years are at high risk of hospitalization and complications from influenza. School age children have a large influenza disease burden with significantly higher use of influenza-related medical care than healthy adults.

Although the virus strains in the 2014-2015 vaccines are the same as last year’s, antibody titers wane to 50% of their original levels in the 6-12 months after vaccination, so yearly immunization is always recommended.

Children with chronic medical conditions are at even higher risk of complications and serious illness from influenza, so they are a specific priority to be immunized, along with their caregivers. Immunizing all family members of infants and children is a way to protect these children, and immunizing the children helps to protect their family members, especially older persons in the family.

There are two types of influenza vaccine: inactivated influenza vaccine, given by injection, and live attenuated influenza vaccine administered by nasal spray. The nasal spray vaccine has been shown to be more effective in children from two through eight years of age, but delay in vaccination should not be done if this vaccine is not available when the child is present for immunization.

Children less than nine years of age, who have not received two influenza vaccinations in a previous season, will need two vaccinations this year, separated by four weeks.

Please see the AAP Policy Statement in its entirety at http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2014/09/30/peds.2014-2413.full.pdf+html?sid=3c742024-facb-4987-9d88-e1a3473a8fd2

Michael Vovakes, MD

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