Children’s flu vaccine shows good protection this season

According to mid-season data from PHE published in the journal Eurosurveillance, the children’s flu vaccine has been 87% effective against this season’s main circulating flu strain (influenza A(H1N1)pmd09) in children aged 2–17 years. Children are offered a live attenuated quadrivalent influenza vaccine (LAIV), which is administered as a nasal spray and protects against four strains of flu.

Over five million children have been offered the nasal spray this season; all children aged between two and nine years are now eligible, with year 5 school children the most recent addition to the group. Vaccine uptake in preschool age children is 43–45%, increasing to 56–64% in school-aged children. PHE notes that younger children have poorer hand and respiratory hygiene and spread flu more easily than adults, and so protecting them is important in order to protect the rest of the population.

This season, adults aged 18–64 years in an at-risk group (eg those with a long-term health condition and pregnant women) were offered the injected quadrivalent vaccine (QIV), an inactivated vaccine that protects against four strains of flu. PHE estimates that this vaccine has been 39% effective against the influenza A(H1N1)pmd09 strain this season.

The new adjuvanted trivalent vaccine (aTIV), designed to stimulate a stronger immune response to vaccination, was offered to patients aged over 65 years. An estimate of its efficacy will not be available until the end of the season, but uptake of the vaccine in this age group has been relatively high at 71%.

Meanwhile, according to the latest influenza surveillance report from PHE, seasonal flu continues to circulate in primary care and the community at low intensity levels, and no excess all-cause mortality has yet been seen in the UK this season.

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