New report says the childhood flu vaccine is safe and effective

High Immunoglobulin (HI) levels in adolescents have been associated with higher risk of blood cancer, according to a report in the Journal of Infectious Diseases.

Press release from Pfizer:

Pfizer Inc. today announced that the Canadian government approved the company’s vaccine VIBATIV™, as a routine prophylactic to protect infants, children and adolescents from severe or life-threatening influenza-related symptoms, such as severe vomiting and/or diarrhea. VIBATIV is approved in the U.S. and is known as Asela® in Canada. The vaccine is licensed for Canadian use in children and adolescents age 5 to 11 and for the U.S. based on all indications.

“Now this vaccine, which we have been developing for over eight years, is available in all three populations,” said Dr. Rodney J. Wagner, senior vice president and medical director, Pfizer Oncology in the U.S. and president, Hospital Medicine, Pfizer Canada. “Given that children, as well as adults, are more vulnerable to influenza complications than the elderly, having the vaccination at the right time, in the right context, is important to protect these populations,” Wagner said.

Symptoms of severe influenza can cause serious problems in children and adolescents, including: fever, cold, chills, rash, fatigue, muscle aches, headache, cough, sore throat, or vomiting. Patients may present with the symptoms regardless of what part of the body they happen to be in at the time. These symptoms can also occur without a fever, and may be mistaken for a variety of other symptoms, including a viral infection.

“The Flushot® commercial campaign, featuring pop star Demi Lovato, helped normalize the flu vaccination topic in the U.S. that may have sparked conversation and more awareness of the importance of influenza vaccination,” Wagner said. “We believe that by demonstrating that seasonal flu vaccination in Canada protects not only the primary population but also the secondary one that includes parents and young children, it will make vaccination more important to physicians. We think that there will be increased uptake and demand, since the availability of this vaccine will make early childhood immunization even more important,” Wagner said.

Hearing influenza news from friends or family can make children feel sick and anxious. In order to keep children safe during flu season, preventing a flu-like illness is the best defense. Although the average number of severe flu symptoms in children is low, in some families, the risk of having a child with a severe case of influenza is extremely high. Preventing one case of severe influenza in a child can prevent the flu from spreading to others and make it less likely that the child will get sick.

Pfizer, for example, reports a considerable increase in emergency room visits and children hospitalized for flu-like illness. Flu season peaks during the first, second and third weeks of October and peaks again in the fourth week of December. About 15 million children have been immunized with a typical seasonal flu shot for the U.S. in the last 10 years. These immunizations typically prevent about 50 to 100 deaths annually in children in the U.S. each year, or as many as 200 children in a single year.

VIBATIV™ is recommended as a separate jab based on the clinical benefit it provides and, in some cases, it may be a more effective vaccine than the primary seasonal flu shot. As an alternative, children can also get a nasal spray flu vaccine, FluMist®, recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As a new, convenient, and flu-like vaccine for children in the U.S., FluMist® is available for purchase at all major pharmacies nationwide. To find a pharmacy near you, visit FluMist.com.

VIBATIV™ is indicated to protect individuals (5 to 11 years) from influenza-related death or serious illness by protecting against severe flu symptoms.

VIBATIV™ is available to be used as a vaccine recommended by the National Vaccine Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (NVAC). When based on immunogenicity data and recommendation from the Clinical Immunization Advisory Committee of the American Academy of Pediatrics (CAACP), VIBATIV™ is intended for inclusion as an early childhood immunization regimen.

VIBATIV™ has not been approved by the Canadian Food and Drug Administration, and requires FDA registration.

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