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Influenza vaccine use to protect healthy children: A debated topic
- Principi, Nicola, Esposito, Susanna
- Vaccine 2018 v.36 no.36 pp. 5391-5396
- death, elderly, experts, herd immunity, influenza, influenza vaccines, pregnant women, school children, vaccination, viruses
- At the beginning of this century, a number of studies suggested that in healthy children, particularly those <2years of age, influenza could have a serious and complicated course, as it frequently led to hospitalization and sometimes, albeit rarely, to death. Moreover, pre-schoolers and school-age children were found to be among the most important causes of influenza transmission to the community, as they shed the virus for a longer time than adults and had frequent contact with greater numbers of individuals through day-care and school. These findings led a number of health authorities to modify the official recommendations regarding the use of influenza vaccine in healthy children. Several factors seem to indicate that vaccination against influenza in healthy children of any age and in pregnant women could be effective in preventing the disease in the entire paediatric population and in providing herd immunity in adults and old people as well. The direct advantages of the vaccine seem greater in younger subjects, particularly those <2–3years of age. Vaccination of older children is considered effective by most experts, but high vaccination coverage of these subjects has been difficult to attain. Similar difficulties have been identified for the vaccination of pregnant women. These challenges can be overcome, at least in part, by appropriate information and accurate evaluations of available data. In addition, further studies specifically designed to clarify unresolved problems regarding vaccine use in paediatric and pregnant populations are needed to convince reluctant health authorities. More effective vaccines for younger children as well as improved availability of data regarding the optimal time period for vaccine administration in pregnant women appear relevant in this regard.