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Flu jabs ‘are effective for young children’

By Lilian Anekwe

Vaccinating young children against flu is effective at preventing influenza, even in infants younger than two years who are the most vulnerable to infection, according to researchers from Finland.

Finland is the only European country that recommends universal immunisation of children aged six months to three years and researchers compared the number of laboratory-confirmed flu infections in 175 children aged nine to 40 months who received the vaccine with 456 who did not in the 2007/08 season.

The vaccine was 66% effective against any influenza, and 84% against influenza A viruses. In children younger than two years overall effectiveness of vaccination was 66%, and 79% against influenza A strains. But the authors were unable to record any adverse events associated with the vaccination of children in the study.

Study leader Dr Terho Heikkinen, a paediatrician at Turku University Hospital in Finland concluded: ‘Trivalent inactivated influenza vaccine was effective in preventing influenza in young children, including those younger than two years.

‘Our findings suggest that influenza vaccine recommendations should be reassessed in most countries.'

The Lancet Infectious Diseases, online 23 November

Flu vaccine