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Last Year's Flu Shot Won't Protect Kids This Season

THURSDAY, Sept. 1 (HealthDay News) -- Most children need to get a seasonal flu vaccination this year, even if they got one last year, the American Academy of Pediatrics says.

The 2011-12 flu vaccine protects against the same three flu strains as last year's vaccine, but a person's immunity decreases by as much as 50 percent 6 to 12 months after vaccination.

That's why it's important for children to get another flu shot this year, according to the AAP.

The group said this is only the fourth time in the past 25 years that the trivalent seasonal flu vaccine has stayed the same for two years.

Everyone 6 months or older should receive the seasonal flu vaccine, the AAP advises. Immunization is especially important for all family members, household contacts, and out-of-home care providers of children under age 5 years and children with high risk conditions such as asthma, diabetes or nervous system disorders.

The recommendations, published online Sept. 1 and in the October print issue of the journal Pediatrics, also advise vaccination for all women who are pregnant, considering pregnancy, or breast-feeding during the flu season.

The flu vaccine is safe for most children with a history of mild egg allergy -- that is, the egg allergy only causes hives -- but parents should consult an allergist before flu vaccine is given to children with a history of severe egg allergy, the AAP said in a journal news release. (A severe egg allergy can include trouble breathing and heart or GI problems, and epinephrine may be required to treat it).

The recommendations also include the following:

  • Children 6 months through 8 years old should get two doses of the seasonal flu vaccine four weeks apart if they got none last year.
  • Kids up to 8 years old need only one dose if they got at least one dose last year.
  • Children 9 years and up need just one dose of flu vaccine.
  • Until 6 months of age, infants are too young to be immunized.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about children and the flu and flu vaccination.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: American Academy of Pediatrics, news release, Sept. 1, 2011

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