To protect children against infection with seasonal influenza viruses, this age group is vaccinated annually in some countries. However, currently used inactivated seasonal influenza vaccines do not protect well against antigenically distinct pandemic influenza virus strains. Furthermore, annual vaccination may prevent infection with seasonal influenza viruses and subsequently the induction of heterosubtypic immunity. Therefore, the development of influenza vaccines that induce broad protective immunity should be considered a priority. In the absence of such vaccines children that are vaccinated annually against seasonal influenza should in a pandemic scenario also receive pandemic vaccines as soon as these become available. In order to protect young infant under six months of age for which no vaccines are registered at present, vaccination of pregnant women should be considered. This would afford protection through maternally derived antibodies. In addition, vaccination of close family members of young infants is recommended, to prevent transmission within the household.

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Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Rimmelzwaan, G., Bodewes, R., & Osterhaus, A. (2011). Vaccination strategies to protect children against seasonal and pandemic influenza. Vaccine, 29(43), 7551–7553. doi:10.1016/j.vaccine.2011.08.014