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Safety and Efficacy of Cell Based Influenza Vaccines

Opinion
Video

Gary Marshall, MD, discusses the safety and efficacy of cell based influenza vaccines and some of the knowledge gaps that remain about influenza virus in children.

This is a video synopsis of a discussion involving Gary Marshall, MD.

The safety profiles of egg-based and cell-based influenza vaccines are very comparable - both can cause soreness, redness or swelling at the injection site, occasionally fever, but serious adverse events are rare after billions of doses. Previously there was concern about triggering severe allergic reactions in people with egg allergies due to residual egg protein in egg-based vaccines. However, this is no longer considered a safety issue as egg-based vaccine manufacturing processes have improved. In terms of efficacy, both vaccines are 80-90% effective at preventing hospitalizations and deaths from flu in children. Some studies suggest cell-based vaccines may have a small, situational advantage in preventing infections, around 10% higher, but this depends on the extent of egg-adaptation mutations in a given flu season. One major knowledge gap is that flu is still perceived as benign "right of winter passage" rather than a serious pediatric threat. Vaccination rates in young children lag around only 50-60%, yet healthy children die from flu every year and serious complications are unpredictable. Both parents and providers need further education that the goal of flu vaccination is preventing severe outcomes like hospitalization and death, not just infection. In fact, flu is the most common vaccine-preventable cause of death in children in the US. Closing knowledge gaps around flu vaccine importance and effectiveness, not safety, is key to improving pediatric vaccination rates and outcomes.

Video synopsis is AI-generated and reviewed by Contemporary Pediatrics editorial staff.

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