Influenza vaccination: reasonable protection of children?

  • basic information to influenza
  • Recommendations of STITCH
  • Vaccination recommendation for children
  • Types of vaccines and their safety
  • Conclusion

The flu – also called the flu – is due influenza virus triggered. Getting sick with the flu should be taken seriously as it can sometimes be life-threatening. We tell you when vaccination is recommended and what you should know about influenza.

Things to know about the flu

Influenza is an acute respiratory disease. Unlike so-called flu infections or colds, it is triggered by the flu virus. Especially in the winter months The flu is widespread in Germany in varying degrees of severity. An infection occurs from person to person, by airborne droplets containing virus or by touching hands that have previously come into contact with the virus-containing secretion. Transmission can also occur via objects contaminated with the pathogen, such as toys or doorknobs. As a rule, one is contagious for about a week after the appearance of the first symptoms of the disease. An exception is children or people with a weakened immune system, who Excretes pathogens longer. It is important to observe hygiene measures in case of illness and avoid further spread. This includes regular hand washing, sneezing and coughing into the crook of your arm and staying at home during the illness phase.

Because the flu virus itself constantly changing and new varieties form, the corresponding vaccine is also adapted almost every year. Typical symptoms of an infection is, for example, a sudden feeling of illness, accompanied by fever, sore throat and dry cough, often also muscle, joint, back or headache. Nausea and loss of appetite are also common features of the disease. How long the symptoms last and how severe they are varies from person to person. While an uncomplicated illness usually lasts only 5 to 7 days, a severe illness can lead to death in the worst case scenario. Possible complications is pneumonia and, in children, also otitis media. Inflammation of the brain or heart muscle is less common. These complications, which can be caused by the influenza virus, are usually particularly feared.

ONE high risk The elderly, pregnant women and people with a chronic underlying disease are responsible for a serious course of illness. To protect you against influenza, vaccination is recommended. The vaccination is usually given annually in October or November. The background for the booster vaccination is that the vaccine is adapted every year to possible new variants of the influenza virus.

STIKO recommendations

The Standing Vaccination Commission (STIKO) speaks no general influenza vaccination recommendation out. Instead, the recommendation is limited to those people who are at high risk of becoming seriously ill. STIKO therefore recommends vaccination for the following groups of people:

  • People who 60 years and older is
  • pregnant woman from the second trimester of pregnancy. If there is a chronic underlying disease, already from the first trimester of pregnancy
  • children, young people and adults with increased health risk of an underlying condition. This means, for example, chronic diseases of the respiratory organs, heart or circulation diseases, liver or kidney diseases, diabetes or other metabolic diseases, chronic neurological diseases such as multiple sclerosis, congenital or later acquired immune system disorders or an HIV infection
  • Employees and residents of nursing homes or nursing homes
  • persons due to the professional environment have an increased risk of infecting themselves and others. This includes, for example, medical staff or staff in facilities with high public traffic

The reason the recommendation does not include healthy children and adults under the age of 60 is that they flu usually without serious complications runs. In principle, however, this does not mean that others are advised against vaccination.

Vaccination recommendations for children, the protective effect and the vaccines

In a few EU countries, such as Finland, Lithuania or Slovakia, a flu vaccination is used also recommended for healthy children. However, there is also no generalized vaccination recommendation for all children and young people here. Similar recommendations are made in the countries of certain age groups healthy children, such as those aged 6 months to 11 years. The fact that the countries make different vaccination recommendations than Germany is due to various factors strategies to prevent influenza diseases. Germany stays strategic to issue a recommendation to those who increased risk of severe disease progression because they especially benefit from vaccination. In other countries, the vaccination recommendation is given to healthy children, e.g. for the reason that children are often the most important source of infection, and the total circulation of the virus must therefore be reduced. At present, STIKO does not give a generalized recommendation or one for healthy children, because the existing data is not yet comprehensive enough.

Stiftung Warentest has a different position on influenza vaccination than STIKO: the former postulates that it makes sense to protect every child from influenza virus by vaccination. This is because children have many social contacts, for example in kindergarten or at school and in the family. In addition, especially smaller children often do not think about hygiene measures. Vaccination will therefore not only protect the child against an influenza epidemic, but also protect others.

The Robert Koch Institute notes that seasonal flu vaccine is usually well tolerated. As with other vaccinations, it can occur due to exposure of the organism to the vaccine transient local reactions come. You should be aware that vaccination never provides 100% protection. Therefore, a possible influenza illness should still be considered in case of similar symptoms despite vaccination. The effectiveness of the active ingredient varies from season to season. Since different viruses or parts of other virus (sub)types can circulate again and again during a season, the protective effect can vary in its effectiveness. If the vaccine matches the circulating variant well, it can a protective effect of up to 80% in young adults remains to be clarified. Since the immune system is often weaker in older people, vaccination protection is in many cases less reliable – it is about 41% to 63%. There are two different types of flu vaccinations for children. In addition to the dead vaccine, there is the so-called live vaccine, which does not have to be injected, but administered as nasal drops. This is available to children and young people between the ages of 2 and 17. This vaccination is also considered to be very well tolerated. Both variants, ie. both spray and syringe can be used equally. It is important to remember that the live vaccine cannot be administered in some underlying diseases, such as an immunodeficiency or severe asthma.

Conclusion

A flu vaccination can prevent a similar infection. There is no clear answer as to whether a flu vaccination makes sense for your child. It is not explicitly recommended by STIKO for healthy children, unless you have a child with an increased health risk due to an underlying disease. Stiftung Warentest, on the other hand, recommends vaccination for all children. If you are in doubt as to whether you want to vaccinate your child, you can Get individual advice on the subject from your pediatrician. Here you can also clarify which vaccine would be most suitable.

As different (sub)types of the virus evolve each year, it is important to get a booster shot in October or November each year, adapted to the circulating variants.

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