-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas
THURSDAY, Aug. 18 (HealthDay News) -- Children younger than 3
years old receive roughly the same amount of protection from the
flu vaccine regardless of which method (injection, nasal spray, or
one of each) is used to give the two recommended doses to them,
according to a new federal study.
Researchers from the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and
Infectious Diseases (NIAID) revealed, however, that young children
who receive at least one dose of the nasal spray vaccine had the
broadest immune response, which could boost their protection
against many diverse flu strains. The nasal spray contains a live,
attenuated influenza virus vaccine, meaning that its live virus is
highly weakened or modified.
Young children are given two doses of flu vaccine, in what's
known as a prime-booster combination. The first dose is intended to
prime their immune system to produce antibodies, while the second
dose is meant to "boost" or trigger an immune response.
"Severe complications from seasonal influenza can be devastating to young children," said NIAID director Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, in a news release from the institute. "This study provides initial evidence that the prime and booster doses for these young children can be different types of flu vaccines and still provide adequate protection against matching seasonal flu strains."
In conducting the study, researchers examined 53 children
ranging in age from 6 months to 35 months over the course of two
During this time, all of the children received a prime dose of
the seasonal flu vaccine as well as a booster dose one month later.
The children were divided into four groups, receiving the doses in
one of the following manners: two injections of flu vaccine; two
doses of the live, attenuated nasal spray; nasal spray followed by
an injection; injection followed by the nasal spray.
The investigators found that all four groups of children were
safe and produced similar amounts of protective antibodies.
Only children who received the live, attenuated virus, however,
produced significant amounts of three important protective T-cells
specific to influenza, the researchers added. They noted the
effects were similar if the children received just one or both
doses of the nasal spray. For children who received one injection
and one nasal spray vaccine, the order of the doses made no
The study pointed out that the live, attenuated flu virus has
been linked to wheezing in the youngest recipients. As a result,
the researchers concluded that the best regimen for children
younger than 24 months might be one injected dose followed by one
live, attenuated dose of the seasonal flu vaccine.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on
children and the flu vaccine.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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