Thursday, April 16

Introduction to Influenza vaccine

Influenza (commonly called the “flu”) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses.There are 2 types of influenza vaccines, each vaccine contains three influenza viruses-one A (H3N2) virus, one A (H1N1) virus, and one B virus.

1) “Flu shot”
An inactivated vaccine (containing killed virus) that is given with a needle, usually in the arm. The flu shot is approved for use in people older than 6 months.

2) The nasal-spray flu vaccine
A vaccine made with live, weakened flu viruses that do not cause the flu (live attenuated influenza vaccine).

Children who should get them

Until this year, children considered to be at higher risk for severe complications due to influenza included only those with specific chronic respiratory, cardiac, hematological, renal, immunosuppressive conditions and metabolic diseases.

• Healthy children between the ages of six and 23 months of age;
• Children with chronic cardiac and pulmonary disorders (including bronchopulmonary dysplasia, cystic fibrosis, and asthma) severe enough to require regular medical follow-up or hospitalization;
• Children who are immunosuppressed due to congenital or acquired immunodeficiency secondary to underlying disease and/or therapy;
• Children with renal disease;
• Children with anemia or hemoglobinopathy;
• Children with conditions requiring treatment for long periods with acetylsalicylic acid;
• Children with other chronic conditions, such as diabetes and other metabolic diseases that put them at increased risk;
• Children residing in chronic care facilities;
• Children who are household contacts of children or adults for whom the influenza vaccine is recommended, including household contacts of healthy children six to 23 months of age; and
• Children who are household contacts of children younger than six months of age, as the latter are at risk of hospitalization but are too young to be vaccinated with current vaccines.

Who shouldn’t get them?

• People who have a severe allergy to chicken eggs.
• People who have had a severe reaction to an influenza vaccination in the past.
• People who developed Guillain-Barré syndrome within 6 weeks of getting an influenza vaccine previously.
• Influenza vaccine is not approved for use in children less than 6 months of age.
• People who have a moderate or severe illness with a fever should wait to get vaccinated until their symptoms lessen.
Timing and dosage
Influenza vaccines are usually given once a year from October to November.
• Children under the age of 9 years who have never had a flu shot will need two doses of the vaccine, given at least 4 weeks apart.
• Children under the age of 9 years who are getting the vaccine for the second year require:
o 2 doses of the vaccine if they received only one dose in the year before.
o 1 dose if they received two doses the year before.
• Children who are receiving the vaccine for the third year (or other years after that) only require one dose, even if they only had one in the previous two year.

Side effects of influenza vaccination

Flu shots
• Soreness, redness, or swelling where the shot was given
• Fever (low grade)
• Aches

Nasal-spray flu vaccine (in children)
• runny nose
• wheezing
• headache
• vomiting
• muscle aches
• fever
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