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Spring-Fall Flu Shots May Protect Toddlers

Combining Vaccine With Routine Visits Could Also Help Harried Parents

2nd Shot Still Strong in the Fall continued...

The investigators found that in both groups there was only a weak immune system response (to develop antibodies to fight off an infection with the flu) following the first vaccination and a strong response after the second, regardless of whether the second dose was given one month or six months after the first.

There were no significant side effects from the vaccinations in the study, and nearly two-thirds of parents surveyed said they preferred the spring-fall schedule to the standard schedule. Moreover, 83% of parents said they'd rather that their kids get the flu vaccine along with all the other shots they have to take in their early years.

The researchers are continuing the study, and hope to have more definitive answers next year about whether the spring-fall strategy will work when kids receive two slightly different forms of the flu vaccine.

WebMD asked a pediatric infectious disease specialist who was not involved in the study whether splitting flu shots into two doses six month year apart could provide adequate protection against the flu, or whether it was a case of trading protection for convenience.

"I don't think there's going to be a tradeoff with spring-fall immunization," says Richard J. Whitley, MD, professor of pediatrics in the department of pediatric infectious diseases at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He notes that the only concern will be to be sure the vaccines accurately protect against the current strain of the flu.

The study was funded by an unrestricted grant from Aventis Pasteur, Inc., manufacturer of an influenza vaccine.

Neuzil is a recipient of research grants and support from Aventis Pasteur.

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