Colds and flu

04 April 2019

Reworked nasal flu vaccine looks good for kids

It is recommended that all children six months and older should receive the flu vaccine, in whatever form their paediatrician recommends.

Good news for kids: Next flu season, you can avoid a painful needle jab and get the nasal vaccine spray instead, according to a leading US paediatricians' group.

In recent flu seasons, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended the shot over the nasal spray – except if a child refused a shot – due to questions about the nasal spray's effectiveness. However, changes to the nasal spray appear to have improved its effectiveness, and the academy is now endorsing the either/or vaccine scenario.

The new recommendation matches advice from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Flu virus unpredictable

"All children six months and older should receive the flu vaccine, in whatever form their paediatrician recommends," said Dr Bonnie Maldonado, chair of the AAP Committee on Infectious Diseases.

"Every year, we are never sure if the vaccine strains are going to be perfectly matched up with incoming flu strains, but based on the information that we have now, we believe the nasal spray is an acceptable option," she explained in an academy news release.

Both types of flu vaccination were approved by the AAP board of directors after a review of the latest data. The decision was announced now because doctors are placing vaccine orders for the 2019-2020 flu season.

"The flu virus is unpredictable and can cause serious complications even in healthy children," said Dr Flor Munoz, a member of the AAP Committee on Infectious Diseases. "Children who have been immunised are less likely to be hospitalized due to flu."

The rate of flu vaccination among US children rose from 38% in November 2017 to 45% in November 2018, according to the AAP.

The academy also said parents should talk with their paediatrician if they have any questions about their child's immunisations.

Image credit: iStock


Ask the Expert

Flu expert

Dr Heidi van Deventer completed her MBChB (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery) degree in 2004 at the University of Stellenbosch.
She has additional training in ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support) and PALS (Paediatric Advanced Life Support) as well as biostatistics and epidemiology.

Dr Van Deventer is currently working as a researcher at the Desmond Tutu Tuberculosis Centre at the University of Stellenbosch.

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