Children over 6 months and under 9 years old who haven’t received an H1N1 vaccine yet can expect to get two doses of seasonal flu vaccine this fall, if the Centers for Disease Control adopts recommendations from its vaccine advisory committee.
The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted to add this recommendation to the usual seasonal flu rules at a regularly scheduled meeting in Atlanta on Thursday.
Young children under the age of 9 who never got the H1N1 or never got seasonal flu vaccine will need to get two seasonal flu shots or sprays, says Dr. Anthony Fiore, a vaccine specialist at the CDC, who presented data to the committee. Children under the age of 6 months are too young to get any flu vaccination.
Each year the three most common strains of flu virus are chosen to be included in the seasonal flu vaccine. Because the H1N1 pandemic virus (also known as swine flu) is still the most prevalent flu virus circulating, the World Health Organization recommended this strain be one of the three strains included in the upcoming flu shots and sprays. U.S. health officials adopted those recommendations earlier this year.
When young children between the ages of 6 months and 9 years get any flu vaccine for the very first time, they have to get two doses anyway. That’s because their bodies do not have any real built-in immunity against flu viruses yet. According to the CDC, the first dose of flu vaccine “primes” their immune system and the second dose (given about a month later) provides immune protection. This allows their bodies to built up enough immunity to fend off the flu. If children only get one flu shot the first time they get a flu vaccination, they will get little or no protection from the flu, which can be particularly dangerous for children young than 5.