Children born in October are less likely to get flu after vaccination, study shows


A study conducted at Harvard Medical School in collaboration with Massachusetts General Hospital, USA, shows that influenza vaccination in October has the most protective efficacy against seasonal influenza infection in young children.

The study has been published in British Medical Journal,

Study: Optimal timing of influenza vaccination in young children: a population-based cohort study.  Image Credit: Ira Lichi/ShutterstockStudy: Optimal timing of influenza vaccination in young children: a population-based cohort study. Image Credit: Ira Lichi/Shutterstock

background

Recent guidelines from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend administering influenza vaccination among children and older adults in September or October to maximize its protective efficacy against seasonal influenza virus infection.

Vaccinating too early in the summer months may reduce vaccine efficacy during the upcoming influenza season (September to May). Similarly, delaying vaccination may result in exposure to circulating influenza virus without achieving vaccine-induced immunity.

The timing of influenza vaccination is especially important for young children, who are at higher risk for severe infection and related hospitalization. Young children receive vaccines primarily during preventive care visits, often intentionally scheduled around their birthdays. Thus, the child's birthday is likely to influence the timing of influenza vaccination.

In this study, scientists analyzed the rate of influenza diagnoses in vaccinated children to determine the optimal vaccination timing.

study design

The study population included commercially insured children aged 2–5 years who received influenza vaccination between 2011 and 2018. Only children with birthdays between August 1 and January 31 were included because these children are expected to have an influence of their birthday on the timing of influenza vaccination.

Participants' medical data were collected from the MarketScan Research database, which contains insurance claims from approximately 30 – 40 million commercially covered Americans. Confounding factors considered in the analysis included age, gender, health care utilization and medical co-morbidities of the child, number of beneficiaries on the same policy, and family members' medical co-morbidities and health care utilization. Are.

Data were analyzed to determine the optimal timing of influenza vaccination and its impact on the rate of influenza diagnoses in vaccinated young children.

important comments

The analysis included a total of 819,223 children who received influenza vaccination between August and January of a given influenza season. The study observed a similar pattern of timing of vaccination and a different pattern of timing of influenza diagnosis.

Analysis of medical data showed that most children were vaccinated against influenza in October. Children who were vaccinated in November or December had the lowest odds of an influenza diagnosis compared to children who were vaccinated in other months.

As scientists have pointed out, the timing of vaccination can be affected by many complex factors. Thus, they could not obtain a causal relationship between the timing of vaccination and influenza diagnosis. Instead, they assessed the associations between month of birth, timing of preventive care visits and vaccinations and the risk of influenza infection.

Birth month and vaccination time

Nearly 90% of enrolled children who received vaccination during August–January had a preventive care visit during that period. Among children aged 2 years, 3 years, 4 years and 5 years, about 56%, 59%, 51% and 41% respectively met in the two weeks around their birth months. Most of these children received vaccination on the day of the preventive care visit.

In contrast, children born in December or January were less likely to receive the vaccine on the day of the preventive care visit. One possible reason may be that many of these children may have received the vaccine in the early fall.

Variation in timing of vaccination was observed across birth months. The average period between the month of birth and the time of vaccination was 10 weeks for children born in August, 12 weeks for children born in October, and 14 weeks for children born in December. Children born in October appear to be significantly more likely to be vaccinated in the same month than children born in other months.

Birth month and influenza diagnosis

The lowest rates of influenza diagnoses were seen in babies born in October. Specifically, the average infection diagnosis rates during influenza season were 3% for children born in August, 2.7% for children born in October, and 2.9% for children born in December.

significance of study

The study found that children born in October were the most likely to be vaccinated against influenza viruses in the month of October and the least likely to be diagnosed with influenza infection the following flu season.

These findings support CDC recommendations that promote October vaccination to prevent influenza outbreaks.

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