Killed or split-virus influenza vaccine refers to an inactive form of the flu virus in vaccine form, which is safe even for children with high-risk conditions, such as asthma, immunodeficiency, or chronic heart or lung conditions. Live virus influenza vaccine, containing a weakened form of the virus, is extremely effective in protecting people against the flu, but may have side effects in high-risk patients, and is not recommended for anyone under 5 or over 49 years old. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will officially begin recommending killed virus flu vaccine for children aged 6-23 months this fall.
According to the review, a flu vaccination can literally pay off in the long run. There is evidence that averting illness by vaccinating kids can save $10-$25 per child, compared to the cost of treating unvaccinated children who develop the flu. Vaccinating children against the flu may also protect adults from getting infected. Influenza can spread like wildfire through a school, where unvaccinated children are in close contact with each other, and then be carried home to infect family members, but children who are vaccinated may keep the virus from ever reaching their parents.
Despite the apparent benefits, relatively few people get their children vaccinated against the flu. "The knowledge of influenza causing problems in children is very new," said Dr. Frederick Ruben, lead author of the article and noted influenza expert. "It's not as benign a germ as has been appr
Contact: Diana Olson
Infectious Diseases Society of America