Vaccinating Children Shown to Reduce Flu Transmission

Selectively immunizing children and adolescents protects the unimmunized
By A. Agrawal, PhD
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, March 9 (HealthDay News) -- Selectively immunizing children and adolescents against influenza significantly protects unimmunized members of rural communities against influenza, according to a study in the March 10 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Mark Loeb, M.D., from McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada, and colleagues randomly assigned rural communities containing 947 children and adolescents 36 months to 15 years old to receive inactivated trivalent influenza vaccine or hepatitis A vaccine as a control, and examined influenza rates among 2,326 community members. The subjects lived in 49 Hutterite colonies, which are Anabaptist rural communities found mostly in western Canada.

The researchers found that among residents who did not receive the influenza vaccine, there were fewer cases of confirmed influenza where the children were vaccinated against influenza compared with hepatitis A (3.1 versus 7.6 percent), for a protective effectiveness of 61 percent. Among all subjects, the results were similar (4.5 versus 10.6 percent, respectively), for an overall protective effectiveness of 59 percent. There were no serious adverse events associated with the vaccine.

"Immunizing children and adolescents with inactivated influenza vaccine significantly protected unimmunized residents of rural communities against influenza," Loeb and colleagues conclude. "Our findings offer experimental proof to support selective influenza immunization of school aged children with inactivated influenza vaccine to interrupt influenza transmission."

Sanofi Pasteur donated the vaccines for the study but provided no funding.

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