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Flu vaccination is extended to children aged 6 months to 5 years throughout Spain this autumn
Health

Flu vaccination is extended to children aged 6 months to 5 years throughout Spain this autumn

Some regions started inoculating minors in this age group last year

Raquel Merino

Malaga

Wednesday, 30 August 2023, 11:47

Opciones para compartir

Up until now, Spain's Ministry of Health recommended influenza vaccinations for premature infants and children at risk. However, in October last year, the incorporation of systematic vaccination in children between 6 months and 5 years of age was approved for the 2023-2024 season.

The Andalucía region began inoculating children in this age group last year, as did Galicia and Murcia. This autumn, it will be extended to the whole of Spain, following the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO) and other international bodies, which consider the flu vaccine to be the most effective way of preventing influenza and therefore advise that children aged 6 to 59 months, even if they are not at risk, should be considered a priority for vaccination against the infection.

However, it is the parents who will have the final say and who decide whether or not to vaccinate their children.

Reasons for widening the age group

As detailed by the Ministry of Health in the report that endorses the recommendation to vaccinate children from six months of age against influenza, this infectious respiratory disease, caused by influenza viruses, causes a significant increase in hospitalisations (between 19-104 per 10,000 children), medical visits (between 6-15 per 100 children) and antibiotic consumption in the healthy child population (between 3-9 cycles of antibiotics per 100 children) every year.

Although its lethality is minimal in children under 15 years of age, data confirms that 95% of those who die are under 5 years of age.

In addition, children under this age have the second highest rates of hospitalisation and intensive care unit admission, and it is estimated that almost 50,000 confirmed cases of influenza per year in primary care, 4,000 hospitalisations - 800 severe - 250 ICU admissions and 8 in-hospital deaths occur in children under 5 years of age. In addition, the Ministry of Health has verified an excess of mortality attributable to influenza with an average of 28 deaths per season in children between 0 and 5 years of age.

The most frequent complications of influenza in children are mainly respiratory, such as bronchial obstruction and pneumonia, and also acute otitis media, as well as other infrequent consequences, such as encephalitis or myocarditis, but which can be serious and leave after-effects.

Influenza vaccines for children

The vaccines available in Spain for children are the inactivated tetravalent vaccines Vaxigrip Tetra, Influvac Tetra, Fluarix Tetra (for infants from 6 months) and Flucelvax Tetra (for children from 2 years), and a live attenuated vaccine, Fluenz Tetra, which is administered intranasally (from 2 to 17 years).

The formulations contain three or four types of influenza viruses (two type A and one or two type B). These viruses are selected on the basis of the likelihood of circulation each season, as estimated annually by the World Health Organization.

According to the Health ministry, "flu vaccines are very safe" and adverse reactions are rare, including local reactions at the injection site (pain, redness and swelling), headache, muscle discomfort, fever or tiredness.

Posology

From 6 months to 8 years of age, it is recommended to administer two doses separated by at least 4 weeks, and only one jab if at least two doses of the vaccine have been received in previous campaigns. And from 9 years and older, a single dose.

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