AAP FLU VACCINE RECOMMENDATIONS FOR 2017-2018 The flu vaccine should be given to everyone 6 months and older, as it is the best option for protection during the upcoming season, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. The annual flu vaccine significantly reduces a child's risk of severe influenza and death.
During the 2016-17 season, more than 100 U.S. children died of the flu, and thousands more were hospitalized for severe illness or complications from the virus. Historically, more than 80 percent of children who died of influenza were not vaccinated.
In its policy statement, "Recommendations for Prevention and Control of Influenza in Children, 2017-2018," the AAP recommends that pediatricians offer influenza vaccine to all children 6 months of age and older, as soon as the vaccine becomes available, in order to complete vaccination and provide protection before the flu season starts. The statement will appear in the October 2017 issue of Pediatrics (published online Sept. 4, 2017).
"Getting a flu shot as soon as the vaccine is available in your community should be on every parent's checklist, along with other back-to-school routines," said Flor Munoz, MD, FAAP, co-author of the report. "We know that the flu should not be taken lightly. Everyone in the household, including pregnant women, grandparents, and child care providers, should be vaccinated to help prevent its spread."
The Academy recommends: Children receive influenza vaccinations by the end of October, if possible. Children who need two doses (those 6 months through 8 years, who have not previously been fully vaccinated) should receive the first vaccine early in the season for optimal protection.
For the second consecutive year, the Academy supports a recommendation by the CDC not to use the live attenuated intranasal influenza vaccine, which performed poorly against influenza A (H1N1) pdm09 viruses in recent influenza seasons.
Special effort should be made to vaccinate all children 6 months and older who have conditions that increase their risk of complications of flu. This includes infants born preterm and those with chronic medical conditions, including asthma and other chronic lung diseases, heart disease, diabetes and other metabolic problems, and weakened immune systems, among others.
Influenza vaccine should be given to all women who are pregnant, considering pregnancy or are in the
postpartum period or are breastfeeding during the flu season.
All health care personnel, child care providers and staff also should receive their annual flu shot because
they often care for individuals at high risk for influenza-related complications.
"Vaccination is the best available preventive measure we have against influenza." said Henry Bernstein,
MD, MHCM, FAAP, co-author of the recommendations. "Yet, there is lots of room for improvement in
influenza vaccination because overall influenza vaccination rates have been suboptimal in both children
and adults during the past 7 seasons."
The influenza vaccine is given by injection into the muscle and is inactivated, meaning it does not contain
a live flu virus and cannot cause the flu. The vaccine comes in either a trivalent or quadrivalent form, which protect against three strains (2 A and 1 B) or four strains (2 A and 2 B) of the virus, respectively. While the influenza A (H1N1) virus in both formulations differs from that contained in the 2016-2017 seasonal vaccines, the influenza A (H3N2) vaccine strain and influenza B vaccine strains are the same.
In addition, antiviral medications are important in the control of influenza, but are not a substitute for influenza vaccination. Pediatricians should promptly identify children suspected of having influenza for timely initiation of antiviral treatment, when indicated, to reduce morbidity and mortality. "Clinical judgment is an important factor in treatment decisions for children who present with influenza-like illness," said Dr. Bernstein. "The best results are seen when treatment is started within 48 hours of symptom onset."
*The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 66,000 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 and follow us on Twitter @AmerAcadPeds
10 Things for Parents to Know About the 2017-2018 Flu Vaccine By: Kathleen Berchelmann MD, FAAP
1.The flu vaccine is essential for children. The flu virus is common and unpredictable, and it can cause serious complications and death, even in healthy children.
The influenza immunization each year is the best way to protect children. At least 101 children died from the flu in the 2016-2017 season, If you choose not to vaccinate your child, you not only miss the opportunity to protect your own child but also can put others at risk.
2. Now is the time to get vaccinated. Influenza vaccine shipments have already begun, and will continue through the fall and winter. Call your pediatrician to ask when the vaccine will be available.
Infants and children up to 8 years of age receiving the flu shot for the first time may need two doses of the vaccine, administered four weeks apart. It is important that these children get their first dose as soon as possible to be sure they can complete both doses before the flu season begins.
3. This year's flu vaccine is only available as a shot. The inactivated influenza vaccine (IIV) is given by intramuscular injection and is approved for children 6 months of age and older. Depending on the number of flu strains it contains, it is available in both trivalent (IIV3 – two A and one B virus) and quadrivalent (IIV4 – two A and two B viruses) forms.
4. It doesn't matter which form of the vaccine you get. The quadrivalent influenza vaccines for the 2017-2018 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.
Please don't delay vaccination in order to wait for a specific vaccine. Influenza virus is unpredictable. What's most important is that people receive the vaccine as soon as possible.
5. You can't get the flu from the flu vaccine. Flu vaccines are made from killed viruses. Mild symptoms, such as nausea, fatigue, headache, muscle aches, and chills, can occur.
The side effects of the flu vaccine are mild (and nothing compared to having the flu). The most common side effects are pain and tenderness at the site of injection. Fever is also seen within 24 hours after immunization in approximately 10% to 35% of children younger than 2 years of age but rarely in older children and adults. These symptoms are usually mild and resolve on their own in a couple of days.
6. If you catch the flu and are vaccinated, you will get a milder form of the disease. We know that flu vaccines are about 60% effective--yes, we all wish that number were higher. The good news is that vaccinated people who get the flu usually get a mild form of the disease, according to a study. People who are not vaccinated will likely be in bed with fever and miserable and even could develop a complication.
7. There should be plenty of vaccine for everyone this year. For the 2017-2018 season, manufacturers have projected that they will produce between up to 166 million doses of flu vaccine.
8. The influenza vaccine doesn't cause autism. A robust body of research continues to show that the influenza vaccine is safe and is not associated with autism.
9. The flu vaccine can be given at the same time as other vaccines. The flu vaccine may be given at the same time as other vaccines, but at a different place on the body. It is also important to note that children 6 months through 8 years of age may need two doses spaced one month apart to be fully protected. These children should receive their first dose as soon as the vaccine is available in their community. Live vaccines (like the MMR and chickenpox vaccines) may be given together or at least 4 weeks apart.
10. Children with egg allergy can get the flu vaccine. Children with an egg allergy can safely get the flu shot from their pediatrician without going to an allergy specialist. Even those with a history of severe egg allergy don't have to treat getting the flu vaccine differently than getting any other vaccine, because these people are not likely to have a reaction to the flu vaccine.