Flu Shots in Separate Seasons Still Protect Toddlers

Study finds one in spring, another in fall easier than two a month apart in fall

SUNDAY, Oct. 3, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Separate spring and fall flu shots for toddlers protect them from infection and are easier on parents than giving toddlers two shots, a month apart, in the fall, says a study by researchers at Duke University Medical Center and the University of Washington.

The researchers compared the immune response in children aged 6 to 23 months who received a flu shot in the fall and another in the spring, to the immune response of children who were given two fall flu shots.

The study found the children who received the fall-spring flu shots were as protected as those who received both their flu shots in the fall. The study also found that 66 percent of parents preferred the fall-spring flu shot schedule.

The results were presented Oct. 2 at the Infectious Diseases Society of America annual meeting in Boston. The study was funded by Aventis Pasteur, which makes flu vaccine.

"Kids less than 2 years old have a higher risk of significant complications from flu that require hospitalization. Trying to get them all in for their shots in fall is logistically tough and not necessarily convenient for parents. If we can get more kids immunized by making the schedule more convenient for parents, then we'll prevent more severe flu complications," Dr. Emmanuel Walter, an associate professor of pediatrics at Duke University Medical Center, said in a prepared statement.

But Walter added the research into the effectiveness of fall-spring flu isn't complete.

"I don't want practitioners to adopt this until the study is complete because we have not tested this schedule when the vaccine antigens (substances that stimulate immune response) changed from year to year. The key result will be what happens this year when the antigens change," Walter said.

Toddlers enrolled in the study this spring received the 2003-04 vaccine and will be given the 2004-05 vaccine this fall.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about flu shots.

SOURCE: Duke University, news release, Oct. 2, 2004
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