Influenza Vaccine for Children
Vaccines have saved human beings from many catastrophes throughout history. Though vaccines often guarantee a certain extent of immunity, a few factors may influence the endurance of their protection. In the case of viruses like influenza, the rapid replication rate results in constant mutation of the virus. Consequently, the impacts of vaccination may diminish after a while. Because of that, everyone, especially susceptible groups like children, is strongly recommended to receive a yearly flu vaccine. However, there is more to the necessity for children to get the influenza vaccine; not only are they prone to more severe damage, but also, they can spread the virus at a higher rate. Therefore, parents should take heed of the influenza vaccine in their children’s vaccination program in order to ensure a healthy environment for everyone in the family and society. Read on to learn about the optimum vaccines for children, their side effects, and preparation tips.
Different Types of Influenza Vaccines
There are a variety of influenza vaccines, each with specific features that vary in terms of target group and structure. Only one dose of influenza vaccine is sufficient every year. However, children 6 months to under 9 years old who are about to receive the flu vaccine for the first time need two doses, a month apart. Some of the most commonly suggested influenza vaccines include:
- a standard-dose flu shot
- an egg-based live attenuated flu nasal spray vaccine (LAIV)
- a recombinant influenza vaccine (RIV)
- an egg-based adjuvanted flu shot
- a cell-based flu shot
- an egg-based high-dose flu shot
These flu vaccines are available under various brand names and manufactured by different pharma companies such as Novartis, AstraZeneca, and Mylan. They function almost identically and are all quadrivalent, meaning they protect against two A and two B influenza viruses. Nevertheless, not every type benefits different age groups and people with medical conditions. Likewise, there are restrictions regarding the administration routes as well. For example, the standard-dose influenza vaccine is given via a needle or a jet injector, whereas the latter is only allowed for those 18 to 64 years of age.
Optimal Options for Children
Children younger than 6 months have not developed enough robustness to take a flu shot. That said, not all vaccine options would function aptly for those who surpass the age limit. For instance, children are not approved to get the recombinant flu shot because it contains higher quantities of antigens than the standard-dose vaccines. Similarly, the high dose and the adjuvanted flu shots are licensed for the use of people 65 and older. That being said, different standard-dose influenza vaccines are suitable for children 6 months and older. They include Fluzone Quadrivalent, Fluarix Quadrivalent, Afluria Quadrivalent, FluLaval Quadrivalent, and more. In addition, a cell-based and a LAIV flu shot would perform perfectly for children of this age.
The Nasal Spray
Also known as the nasal spray or FluMist, the live attenuated influenza vaccine is a prevalent type approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The nasal spray offers equal safety and efficiency and is administrated quickly as a spray in each nostril. People 2 through 49 years of age are allowed to get the nasal spray vaccine, although some groups with medical conditions would find other options safer. As a quadrivalent vaccine, the nasal spray immunes the body against four flu viruses. However, a study published in the journal Pediatrics suggested the superiority of traditional flu shots to the nasal spray flu vaccine. Though LAIV protects as effectively as inactivated influenza vaccines (IIV) against influenza A(h3n2) and influenza B viruses, a reduction in effectiveness regarding the A(H1N1) viruses was noticed. This reduced effectiveness roots back to the 2009 flu pandemic and seems no longer to be a problem, as the nasal spray vaccine got recommended in the 2018-2019 flu season again.
Biosimilar Influenza Vaccines
The need to receive a dose every year is the most prominent drawback of the influenza vaccine. Since the flu viruses are constantly mutating, a new vaccine is required every year, and there is no other way around it. Yet, the charges might appear to be a huge burden for people who live in developing countries or do not have insurance. A standard-dose influenza vaccine costs about $40,00, although it might stretch to about $95.00 for some egg-free or high-dose vaccines. Nonetheless, biosimilars have paved the way for everyone to have more accessibility to costly biologic medications. As for many other vaccines, a biosimilar influenza vaccine is being manufactured by some companies, such as Opal Biopharma (OBP). Approved in terms of safety and function, a biosimilar influenza vaccine costs considerably less due to simplified stages of production than the original vaccines.
Influenza Vaccine Side Effects for Children
Most people do not usually undergo the side effects of the influenza vaccine. And these side effects do not typically vary for children or adults. The most common side effects are fever, muscle aches, headaches, and nausea. Moreover, the spot where the shot is given may experience swelling, soreness, and redness. That said, the nasal spray may bring up a different set of side effects, including reduced appetite, wheezing, blocked or runny nose, vomiting, headache, and muscle aches. Among these side effects, fever is comparatively more prevalent in children. It is basically a body temperature of 38°C or above and usually appears mild. However, it would help if you took action upon it by checking up on your child’s body temperature regularly and keeping it low. You can do so by offering your child ample amounts of cool drinks while maintaining the overall temperature of the environment. These side effects usually kick in on the first day of vaccination and should go away within a couple of days. In case the symptoms prolong, you need to consult a doctor.
Ways to Alleviate the Side Effects
Side effects are generally a positive sign of how the immune system reacts to the vaccine. While only a proportion of people experience these side effects, they can vary from one person to another. Still and all, you can pay attention to a few tips that can tone down the possible symptoms. Make sure your child takes enough fluids in order to avoid dehydration. It is also suggested to replace junk food with fresh fruits and vegetables, at least for a short period after vaccination. Additionally, heavy physical activity might cause the body unnecessary stress, though there is no strict restriction in that regard.
The necessity of Influenza Vaccination for Children
The immune system is not completely developed in newborns, and its development process usually drags on for five years. Because of that, a higher risk of flu contraction threatens children below 5 years old. Nevertheless, the importance of influenza vaccination in children is not merely related to children themselves but to others around them too. Children play a crucial role in spreading the flu. This is mainly due to certain traits that children oftentimes share, like touching their mouths, noses, and eyes. Since flu germs primarily spread via droplets, children can readily get the flu and pass it on to anyone around them. What is more, kids are less mindful of personal hygiene and health instruction, which can increase the chance of flu spread through cough and sneezing. Also, keep in mind that a person can be a spreader without any symptoms.
Preparing Children for Vaccination
Regardless of how much it might bother you, kids usually hold a grudge against needles. Thus, parents are advised to stick with specific strategies to facilitate vaccination for them and their children. For instance, you can have the upper hand by telling your child about the upcoming appointment beforehand while trying to uphold a positive attitude towards the flu vaccine. Moreover, you can use different ways to distract your child, like toys, or reduce anxiety by creating a clear picture of how painless a flu shot is. Needless to say, these issues are less likely to come up if you are going with the nasal spray vaccine.
Millions of people around the globe contract influenza, and the hospitalization and death rates are also shockingly substantial. Thus, getting an influenza vaccine can be of great benefit. This is most notably crucial for children, who are a critical factor in spreading flu viruses. On the whole, there are two kinds of influenza vaccine, namely a flu shot and a nasal spray. The former is available in various types, some of which are optimum for children, such as Quadrivalent Fluarix and Fluzone Quadrivalent. What’s more, the biosimilar influenza vaccine is a more economical option with highly similar performance and safety. The side effects of the influenza vaccine and a biosimilar one are identical, including nausea, fever, headaches, reduced appetite, and symptoms at the injection site.