Experts question flu shot for kids
BY AP Wire Services
Friday, October 30, 2009
10/30/09 at 5:01 AM
LONDON (AP) — Dutch scientists made a controversial suggestion Friday that children might be better off skipping the seasonal flu vaccine this year — a proposal rejected by other health experts.
Their commentary, based largely on animal studies, was published online Friday in the British medical journal Lancet Infectious Diseases. Yet many top health officials said there was no proof that children are more likely to avoid swine flu by skipping a seasonal flu shot.
"The best shot parents have at protecting their kids is to get them a shot in the arm or up the nose," said Dr. Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Diseases Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. "Parents should get whatever vaccine is available and approved."
In the opinion piece, Guus Rimmelzwaan of Erasmus University and his colleagues suggested that health authorities reevaluate the recommendation by countries like the U.S. and Canada to give all healthy children between 6 months and 5 years old a flu shot. The World Health Organization recommends that healthy children under 2 get a flu shot.
The theory is that children infected with seasonal flu acquire a certain kind of immunity that might protect them against new flu outbreaks.
In the 1957 Asian flu pandemic, the Dutch scientists noted, people infected with seasonal flu were less likely to catch the pandemic virus.
Other experts said it would be dangerous to revise flu policies for results based mainly on animal experiments. Osterholm said there was no reason why a seasonal flu infection might ward off swine flu.