Physicians Call for Increase in Flu Vaccination Among Young Children

Newswise -- Authors of a review in the February issue of The Lancet Infectious Diseases conclude that current research supports a widening of influenza vaccination to specific groups of young children, including infants between six months and 2 years of age, children with recurrent ear infection or upper respiratory-tract infection, and healthy children attending daycare centers or elementary school.

Recent studies have suggested that pediatric influenza is a greater medical problem than usually thought because it can cause excess hospitalizations, medical visits, and antibiotic prescriptions even in healthy children, especially those under 2 years. Furthermore, influenza in otherwise healthy children may have substantial socioeconomic consequences for the children and their household contacts.

In the article, Nicola Principi and Susanna Esposito from the University of Milan, Italy, review the current research into pediatric influenza vaccination and of the logistical and economic considerations that will influence the implementation of more widespread vaccination programs.

Outlining the main conclusions of the review, Principi comments, "Increased efforts are needed to identify and recall high-risk children because their rate of vaccination coverage is still much lower than it should be. Second, the immunization of infants aged 6-23 months and their close contacts should be encouraged as much as possible because of the substantially increased risk of influenza-related hospitalizations. Third, children with recurrent acute otitis media or respiratory-tract infections, and healthy children attending daycare centers or elementary schools, should be included among the pediatric groups requiring vaccination to reduce the direct and indirect costs of influenza in the children themselves and their unvaccinated household contacts."

Esposito adds, "The issues that need to be addressed include educating physicians and parents about influenza-related morbidity, the safety and cost-effectiveness of licensed vaccines, the adequacy of vaccine supplies, and the availability of intranasal products insofar as the greater compliance to nasal administration should make it possible to increase the use of influenza vaccination."

Source: The Lancet