Researchers say key flu vaccine may protect young people from infection

Image: Nick Dunham / AP Images/Associated Press Research out of the UK suggests that a popular type of vaccine used in childhood may help prevent hospitalization for teenagers who become infected with influenza. Researchers…

Researchers say key flu vaccine may protect young people from infection

Image: Nick Dunham / AP Images/Associated Press

Research out of the UK suggests that a popular type of vaccine used in childhood may help prevent hospitalization for teenagers who become infected with influenza.

Researchers from the Royal Liverpool University Hospital compared the effectiveness of two versions of the pneumococcal vaccine known as two-quadrivalent and seasonal two-quadrivalent (2QQ). The results of their study were published Thursday in the Lancet Infectious Diseases.

According to the researchers, a higher proportion of eligible children had been immunized with the vaccine after the first trimester compared to boys. Overall, more than 90 percent of eligible children were immunized at that point. Of those children, 13.2 percent showed evidence of infection within a week of a first response to vaccination.

The researchers found that 8.4 percent of the boys in the study developed such infection compared to 6.2 percent of females within a week of receiving the vaccination. When the first response is taken into account, however, the rate dropped to 4.4 percent for the boys and to 2.2 percent for the girls.

The researchers believe the improvement in the success rate may result from a smaller dose, lower costs, and less potential for vaccine-induced side effects, the BBC reported.

“We can see that being vaccinated in the first trimester is more effective than if the vaccine is used in later development, which could have implications for vaccination in a wider age group,” said co-author Dr Ashish Jha.

The researchers did, however, note that their study only included children between the ages of 5 and 15. As a result, they didn’t find any benefit in using vaccine in children under age 5.

The results of the study were part of an ongoing study designed to determine if the vaccine prevents hospitalization in teenagers, and research has already yielded some encouraging results. A study published last year found that the vaccine resulted in a reduction in hospitalizations among children ages 5 to 11 by almost half.

In a post on the Lancet Infectious Diseases website, Jha pointed out that studies suggest that pneumonia in the US contributes to up to 48,000 deaths each year.

“Pneumonia is a big health problem in young people in particular and it is one of the most under-treated chronic conditions,” he wrote. “The United States accounts for roughly 40 percent of the global pneumonia burden and mortality from this condition is now approaching 5 percent of the whole under-five mortality.”

[BBC]

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