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Seasonal influenza in children: Prevention with vaccines

Author
Flor M Munoz, MD, MSc
Section Editors
George B Mallory, MD
Morven S Edwards, MD
Deputy Editor
Mary M Torchia, MD

INTRODUCTION

Influenza is an acute respiratory illness caused by influenza A or B viruses, which occurs in outbreaks worldwide every year, mainly during the winter seasons (in temperate climates). Certain groups of children and adults are at increased risk of acquiring severe or complicated illness from influenza (table 1). Among healthy children, influenza generally is a self-limited and uncomplicated disease. However, it can be associated with severe morbidity and mortality. Influenza causes an appreciable disease burden (eg, school and work absence, increased frequency of outpatient medical visits), and children are important vectors for the spread of disease. (See "Seasonal influenza in children: Clinical features and diagnosis", section on 'Epidemiology'.)

Immunization is the most effective means of preventing influenza infection. This topic will discuss influenza immunization in children. The use of antiviral drugs for the prevention and treatment of influenza in children, the design of influenza vaccines, and influenza vaccination in adults are discussed separately. (See "Seasonal influenza in children: Prevention and treatment with antiviral drugs" and "Seasonal influenza vaccination in adults".)

INFLUENZA ACTIVITY

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in collaboration with the World Health Organization and its reporting network (FluNet), tracks influenza virus isolates throughout the world to monitor disease activity and to predict the appropriate components for the annual influenza vaccine. Surveillance information is updated weekly.

During the 2015-2016 influenza season in the United States, the 2009 pandemic H1N1 influenza virus (influenza A[H1N1]pdm09), which has become a seasonal strain, predominated; influenza A (H3N2) viruses were more commonly identified from October to early December, and influenza B viruses were more commonly identified from mid-April through mid-May [1].

OVERVIEW

Annual influenza vaccination is the most effective strategy for preventing influenza [2]. Estimated seasonal influenza vaccine coverage rates in the United States have increased in children since 2009 and were approximately 60 percent during the 2015-2016 influenza season; coverage rates in adults have remained stable at approximately 40 percent [3].

                              

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Literature review current through: Nov 2016. | This topic last updated: Thu Oct 06 00:00:00 GMT+00:00 2016.
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