With flu season right around the corner, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently issued updated influenza vaccine recommendations for the coming year. The biggest change in 2010? No separate H1N1 ("swine flu") vaccine. According to the August 30, 2010, AAP report, although two flu vaccines were recommended last year (seasonal and H1N1), only a single vaccine is being manufactured for the current 2010 to 2011 flu shot schedule. Included in this year's vaccine are two strains of seasonal flu virus and a strain of 2009 pandemic influenza A (H1N1).
Who should get the shot? The AAP recommends annual influenza immunization for all children and adolescents 6 months of age and older, with special efforts made to immunize all family members, household contacts, and out-of-home care providers of children who are younger than 5 years; children with high-risk conditions (asthma, diabetes, or neurologic disorders); healthcare personnel; and pregnant women. These groups are identified by the AAP as the most vulnerable to influenza-related complications.
If figuring out flu shots has got you flustered, AAP guidelines include a concise chart to simplify decision-making about the number of flu vaccine doses a child needs, which depends on the child's age at the time of the first dose and vaccine history. Here's what you need to know:
- Children younger than 6 months are too young to receive influenza vaccine.
- Children 9 years of age and older need only one dose of this year's flu shot.
- Children younger than 9 years need a minimum of two doses of 2009 pandemic H1N1 vaccine. If they did not receive the H1N1 vaccine during last year's flu season, they will need two doses of seasonal influenza vaccine this year.
- Children younger than 9 years who have never received the seasonal flu vaccine before will need two doses.
- Children younger than 9 years who received seasonal flu vaccine before the 2009-2010 flu season need only one dose this year if they received at least one dose of the H1N1 vaccine last year. They need two doses this year if they did not receive at least one dose of the H1N1 vaccine last year.
- Children younger than 9 years who received seasonal flu vaccine last year for the first time, but only received one dose, should receive two doses this year.
- Children younger than 9 years who received a flu vaccine last year, but for whom it is unclear whether it was a seasonal flu vaccine or the H1N1 flu vaccine, should receive two doses this year.
- All children who need two doses should receive the second dose at least four weeks after the first dose.
Still not sure? Check with your child's pediatrician for a flu shot schedule that matches your child's needs.