Open Access Highly Accessed Commentary

Seasonal influenza immunization in early infancy?

Maurizio Bonati1* and Antonio Clavenna2

Author Affiliations

1 Laboratory for Mother and Child Health, Department of Public Health, Mario Negri Research Institute, Via G. La Masa 19, 20156, Milan, Italy

2 Pharmacoepidemiology Unit, Mario Negri Research Institute of Milan, Milan, Italy

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BMC Public Health 2012, 12:873  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-873

Published: 15 October 2012

First paragraph (this article has no abstract)

Seasonal influenza is an important public health and medical challenge. Vaccination against influenza is recognized worldwide as the main strategy for prevention and control. The findings of meta-analyses, however, suggest that efficacy and effectiveness of influenza vaccines, both in people aged 65 years or older [1] and in children, are lower than believed [2]. These findings were recently confirmed, even if mitigated (only) a little, by an additional meta-analysis. This recent study assessed efficacy and effectiveness of licensed influenza vaccines in the USA with sensitive and highly specific diagnostic tests used to confirm influenza [3]. Findings show that in healthy children influenza vaccines have a very variable efficacy (vaccine effects on lab-confirmed influenza) and effectiveness (prevention of influenza-like illness). Available safety data are scant, particularly for inactivated vaccines in younger children [2]. In such a context, when the seasonal periods for influenza arrive, questions concerning who should receive the influenza vaccine are raised among health operators and lay people worldwide. Pediatricians, parents, and caregivers of infants and children in particular, are doubtful as to whether to recommend or accept influenza immunization of children or not [4], also because in children the infection is usually self-limiting without complications, though the risk is higher in those aged less than 6 months [5].

Influenza vaccines; Vaccination; Newborn; Infant