The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends all
children ages 6 months or older be immunized against influenza as soon as
vaccine is available – either with the trivalent vaccine that protects against
three strains of the virus, or with a new quadrivalent vaccine that protects
against four strains.
The AAP released its updated recommendations in a policy
statement, “Recommendations for Prevention and Control of Influenza in Children, 2013-2014,” in the October 2013 issue of Pediatrics (published online
A special effort should be made to vaccinate people in
vulnerable groups, including children with chronic health conditions, children
of American Indian or Alaskan Native heritage, health care workers, women who
are pregnant, may become pregnant or are breastfeeding, and household contacts
and caregivers of children in high-risk populations.
New quadrivalent influenza vaccines for the 2013-2014 season
contain the same three strains as the trivalent vaccine, plus an
additional B strain. Although this may offer improved protection, the AAP does
not give preference for one type of flu vaccine over another.
“Parents should not delay vaccinating their children to
obtain a specific vaccine,” said pediatrician Henry Bernstein, D.O., FAAP, the
lead author of the flu recommendations. “Influenza virus is unpredictable, and
what’s most important is that people receive the vaccine soon, so that they
will be protected when the virus begins circulating.”
Recent data show that most people who have an egg allergy
can receive the inactivated influenza vaccine. Although inactivated
vaccine given as a single, age-appropriate dose is well-tolerated by all
recipients who have egg allergy, pediatricians should consult with an allergist
for any child with history of a severe reaction.
The AAP continues to recommend using the antiviral
medicines oseltamivir or zanamivir for children hospitalized for influenza or
with severe influenza symptoms, and in children with influenza who have
underlying chronic conditions. Given its known safety profile, oseltamivir
can be used to treat influenza in both term and preterm infants from
birth, while chemoprophylaxis should only be considered in term infants.
The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 60,000
primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and
pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and
well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more
information, visit www.aap.org.