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The flu virus has the ability to change (mutate) from year to year, that is, each year is different. In this way, it ensures that our defenses cannot recognize it and that is why it can cause us the same disease over and over again. It does not generate immunity after infection, as it does in the case of measles or rubella, for example.
For this reason, every year a different vaccine has to be made, tailored to the viruses that are believed to be present during flu season.
Although it is highly variable, the effectiveness of the flu vaccine in children is limited. In children under 2 years of age, efficacy is low, and among children between 2 and 9 years of age it is estimated at 50-65%. The activity of the vaccine is variable because it also depends on the degree of similarity between the strains of the viruses included in the vaccines, and the viruses that are finally in circulation during the flu season.
The flu vaccination is annual and should be administered during the fall of each year (from October to December).
In children, at present, the flu vaccine is recommended from 6 months of age and only in those with underlying diseases that make them more prone to complications:
1. Chronic respiratory disease (such as cystic fibrosis, bronchopulmonary dysplasia, bronchiectasis, asthma, etc.).
2. Severe cardiovascular disease (congenital or acquired).
3. Chronic metabolic disease (eg diabetes mellitus, inborn errors of metabolism, etc.).
4. Chronic kidney disease (such as kidney failure, nephrotic syndrome, etc.) or liver.
5. Chronic inflammatory bowel disease.
6. Congenital or acquired immunodeficiency (includes the administration of oral corticosteroids at high and sustained doses).
7. Children without a spleen or those for whom it does not function (functional or anatomical asplenia).
8. Oncological disease (cancer).
9. Moderate or severe hematological disease (severe anemias).
10. Chronic neuromuscular disease and moderate or severe encephalopathy.
11. Moderate or severe malnutrition.
12. Morbid obesity.
14. Down syndrome or other genetic disorders with risk factors.
15. Continued treatment with acetylsalicylic acid.
16. Teen pregnancy.
Healthy children from 6 months, adolescents and healthy adults should also be vaccinated living with patients at risk (with the diseases described above). Other indications, such as systematic employment in children who attend daycare centers, are currently being debated.
In general, healthy children do not require vaccination. However, the Vaccine Advisory Committee of the Spanish Pediatric Association (CAV-AEP) considers that healthy children older than 6 months and not included in the aforementioned risk groups can be vaccinated against seasonal flu if their parents they request it and their pediatrician considers it convenient.
This preventive attitude provides the vaccinated child or adolescent with direct individual protection, as well as favoring indirect family and community protection.
You can read more articles similar to When to vaccinate children against the flu, in the category of Childhood Diseases on site.