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How Effective is a Flu Vaccination in Children?

In a recent study published in PLOS One, researchers investigated the effectiveness of a flu vaccination in young children.

A recent study carried out in Canada has found that vaccinating young children against influenza decreases their risk of being admitted to hospital for respiratory complications of flu infection.

The researchers of the study analysed the medical records of 9,547 children between the ages of six months and five years living in Canada. These children were hospitalised during the 2010-11 to 2013-14 influenza seasons and had a respiratory specimen collected and analysed for the influenza virus.

The senior author, Jeff Kwong, from Public Health Ontario, explained the importance of the study, noting that while influenza can cause serious illness, research has been limited to assess the extent that the flu vaccine prevents serious complications and hospitalisations in young children.

The results of the children’s specimens, recently published in PLoS One, showed that 12.8% were positive for the virus. The risk of confirmed influenza hospitalisations was reduced by 60% by the use of the vaccine in children who were fully vaccinated, and by 39% in those children who were partly vaccinated over the four flu seasons.

The study demonstrated that full flu vaccination offers statistically significant protection in three of the four flu seasons. Partial flu vaccination was shown to offer protection in two seasons. The effectiveness of the vaccine was higher in children aged 24-59 months than in the younger children between the ages of 6 to 23 months.

The results of this study support the recent recommendations to provide vaccination to this group of high-risk individuals.

Written by Jade Marie Evans, MPharm, Medical Writer


(1) Mayor S. (2017). Flu vaccine reduces children’s admissions for respiratory complications, study shows. Available: Last accessed 15th Dec 2017.
(2) Buchan SA, Chung H, Campitelli MA, et al. Vaccine effectiveness againstlaboratory-confirmed influenza hospitalizations among young children during the 2010-11to 2013-14 influenza seasons in Ontario, Canada. PLoS One 2017;359:e0187834. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0187834. pmid:29149183

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