All children should receive a flu jab this year, even if one was given to them last year, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) stresses. This coming flu season’s flu vaccine provides protection for the same three strains of influenza as last year’s vaccine. However, people’s immunity can fall by as much as half over a six to twelve month period. Hence, it is vital that in order to maintain maximum protection, children are vaccinated again this year.

Over the last 25 years, the trivalent seasonal influenza vaccine has remained the same for a second year four times.

“Recommendations for Prevention and Control of Influenza in Children, 2011-2012,” is published in the October issue of Pediatrics.

All Americans over the age of 6 months should receive a flu jab, the AAP recommends.

The AAP wrote on its web site:

“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 complications.”

Children who have had a severe allergic reaction to eggs, such as respiratory or cardiovascular changes, or gastrointestinal symptoms needing epinephrine, should be checked by an allergist before being given the vaccine. Those with a history of mild egg allergy, such as hives may take the jab safely.

The dosing algorithm in this year’s policy has been simplified, the AAP informs. It depends on the vaccine history of the child, as well as how old he/she was/is at the administration of the first dose:

  • Infants under the age of six months should not receive a flu jab
  • Children aged 9+ years should only receive one flu jab dose
  • Children aged from 6 months through 8 years who received at least one dose last year need only be given one dose this year
  • Children aged from 6 months through 8 years who were given no flu jab last year should receive two doses this year – four weeks apart
  • For those aged 18+ years, the AAP recommends an Intradermal vaccine

Influenza or flu, which is caused by the influenza virus, can sometimes cause serious illness – the patient may be hospitalized, and complications have the potential to become life-threatening. The illness principally affects the respiratory system, but it can eventually affect the whole body.

The influenza season generally begins in the autumn and lasts until the spring.

As flu viruses tend to change over time, and from one year to the next, people can become infected several times during their lives.

The signs and symptoms of flu, which usually last for at least a week, may include:

Parents whose children with flu complain of earache should take them to see a doctor. A cough or fever that persists should also be reported to a health care professional. Although uncommon, flu complications can be serious and life-threatening.

Get the annual flu jab.

Vaccines are made each year to protect against the circulating viruses – these vaccines are safe, says AAP. The current flu vaccine protects against the same three flu strains as last year’s:

  • Influenza A (H3N2)
  • Influenza A (H1N1)
  • Influenza B

Written by Christian Nordqvist