vaccine recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)
stress the importance of getting a new flu shot this season – even for
children who received one last year.
The 2011-2012 flu
vaccine protects against the same three influenza strains as last
year’s vaccine. But because a person’s immunity drops by as much as 50
percent 6-12 months after vaccination, it’s important to receive
another dose this year to maintain optimal protection. This is only
the fourth time in the past 25 years that the composition of the
trivalent seasonal influenza vaccine has remained the same for a
The AAP guidelines are included in the policy statement, “Recommendations for Prevention and Control of Influenza in Children, 2011-2012,” published in the October 2011 print issue of Pediatrics (published online September 1).
The AAP recommends
everyone 6 months or older receive influenza vaccine. Special efforts
should be made to immunize all family members, household contacts,
and out-of-home care providers of children who are younger than 5
years; children with high-risk conditions (e.g., asthma, diabetes, or
neurologic disorders); health care personnel; and all women who are
pregnant, considering pregnancy, or breastfeeding during the flu
season. These groups are most vulnerable to influenza-related
Most children with
a history of mild egg allergy (i.e., hives) can safely receive the
influenza vaccine without needing an allergy consultation, but parents
should consult an allergist before administering flu vaccine to
children with a history of severe egg allergy (i.e., cardiovascular
changes, respiratory or gastrointestinal tract symptoms or the
required use of epinephrine).
This year’s policy
contains a simplified dosing algorithm for administering the
influenza vaccine to children depending on the child’s vaccine history
and age at the time of the first administered dose:
Infants younger than 6 months are too young to be immunized.
Children 9 years of age and older need only 1 dose of influenza vaccine.
6 months through 8 years of age need only 1 dose of the 2011-2012
influenza vaccine if they received at least 1 dose last season.
6 months through 8 years of age should receive 2 doses if they did not
receive any vaccine last season. The second dose should be
administered at least 4 weeks after the first.
An intradermal vaccine has been recommended for people 18 through 64 years of age.
Editor’s Note: Information for parents and caregivers on the new flu recommendations will be posted on www.healthychildren.org/flu
on Thursday, September 1. Reporters who would like a direct link to
this flu guidance to include in their story should contact the AAP
Department of Communications.
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.