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Update: Seasonal Flu Vaccine

by Sue Hubbard, M.D.

I know that it is hard to think about flu season when it is officially summer and consequently HOT all over the country. Be that as it may, the CDC and ACIP just released the guidelines for the seasonal flu vaccine for 2010.

The seasonal flu vaccine for 2010 is currently being manufactured and will be a trivalent vaccine containing the following antigens:  2009 H1N1, Perth H3N2 and B Brisbane.

The H1N1 component of this vaccine will be the same as the monovalent H1N1 flu vaccine (swine flu) that was given in 2009 – 2010.  The H1N1 influenza is predicted to be the most prevalent influenza strain for the 2010-2011 flu season.

Based on this information the ACIP (Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices) “tweaked” their recommendations for administering this years flu vaccine for children.

The ACIP recommended that children ages 6 months – 9 years who did not receive at least one dose of the monovalent H1N1 vaccine receive two doses of this season’s trivalent (seasonal) influenza vaccine.

The ACIP reviewed data from the 2009 H1N1 pandemic (swine flu) vaccine, which showed that children 3 – 9 years of age, and especially children 6 months- 36 months of age did not achieve the same antibody response as older children.

According to the data presented to the ACIP, 80% of children developed protection after 2 doses of vaccine while only 20% developed protective antibody after 1 dose of the H1N1 vaccine.  Due to this data the recommendations for this year’s vaccine will be slightly different than previous years which stated that “all children under the age of 9 should receive 2 doses of influenza vaccine separated by at least 4 weeks if they have never previously been immunized”.

During the same meeting Dr. Carol Baker of Baylor College of Medicine reiterated that that data shows “overwhelming evidence” for the safety of the pandemic H1N1 vaccine given last year which should reassure the public as to the safety of this year’s flu vaccine.

So, heads up for fall. It looks like there may be another shot or “sniff” in your child’s future as we begin flu vaccinations. The good news is that the data shows that the vaccine is safe and effective, and more protective if children under the age of 9 years get 2 doses.

That’s your daily dose for today.  We’ll chat again tomorrow.

Send your question to Dr. Sue!

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