An expert describes the current pediatric recommendations for influenza vaccinations as well as factors that contribute to the effectiveness of the vaccine.
This is a video synopsis of a discussion involving Gary Marshall, MD.
The best prevention against influenza is the annual flu vaccination, which is recommended for everyone 6 months of age and older. Pediatric flu vaccination is especially important because young children have high hospitalization and complication rates from the flu. Children under 9 years old who are getting their first flu vaccine should receive two doses in the same season to develop a strong immune response. Children with high risk medical conditions that could lead to hospitalization or serious flu complications should be prioritized for vaccination. There are inactivated and live attenuated nasal spray flu vaccines available for children, but the live vaccine can only be used in kids over 2 years old without conditions that increase complications. The effectiveness of the flu vaccine varies year-to-year depending on how well the strains in the vaccine match the circulating strains, but it is best at preventing hospitalizations and deaths rather than infections. Additional factors impacting effectiveness relate to how the vaccine is manufactured: in eggs which can cause viral mutations from adapting to eggs that alter immunity or in cell culture which has higher fidelity to circulating strains. Egg-based vaccine effectiveness also varies based on the predominant circulating strain, with H3N2 strains tending to mutate more during egg-based manufacturing. Overall the flu vaccine is critical to prevent severe outcomes, even as effectiveness for infection prevention varies.
Video synopsis is AI-generated and reviewed by Contemporary Pediatrics editorial staff.