Influenza vaccine protects against influenza. Influenza is a viral disease that sometimes becomes severe even in previously healthy people. Usually you only get a week's suffering with a high fever and cough. But some of our children are cared for in the intensive care unit every year for influenza. The risk of serious illness is higher for chronically ill children or children with impaired immune systems in some way.
The flu virus mutates all the time. There are different strains that circulate each year, and the vaccine changes to meet this. Vaccine production is based on predictions about which strains will circulate, and succeeds in meeting different strains in different years. The most effective will be the influenza vaccine if an entire population is vaccinated, because you then get herd immunity that protects even those who do not receive individual protection from the vaccine.
In the United States, all people over the age of 6 months are recommended to get the flu vaccine since a few years ago.
In Sweden, children with chronic diseases are recommended to get the influenza vaccine
In Sweden, we have chosen to recommend the vaccine to people in medical at risk groups. On the one hand, all elderly people over the age of 65 are an at risk group, as are the chronically ill. This does not provide as good flu protection as vaccinating the entire population, but it is the choice that is made. The children recommended for influenza vaccination are:
- Children with chronic heart disease
- Children with chronic lung disease (for asthma, severe asthma applies)
- Children with severe immune deficiency (from illness or medication)
- Children with chronic liver failure
- Children with chronic renal failure
- Children with unstable diabetes
- Children with extreme obesity
- Children with neuromuscular disorders that affect breathing
- Children with multiple disabilities (and severely brain-damaged children)
These children should receive vaccination free of charge. Some hospitals are good at keeping track of which children should be vaccinated and remind their parents, others less well. Generally we are not great I would say. The great thing is that you as a parent of a child with any of the above illnesses can go to any health care center or vaccination office with a care agreement and ask for the vaccination for your child. There are clear guidelines from the infectious disease doctor that everyone who has a care contract has the responsibility to vaccinate everyone at risk who asks for it.
Pregnant women should be vaccinated against the flu
There is a greater risk of severe flu in a pregnant woman than in adults in general. Therefore, for pregnant women the influenza vaccination is recommended.
Adults who have the diseases above vaccination (free of charge) is also recommended.
All people over the age of 65 recommended vaccination (free of charge).
family members People who are recommended to receive the vaccination free of charge should also vaccinate others to protect the sick or elderly family members, who may be vaccinated but not given adequate protection. My children will receive vaccines to protect their retired grandmother and grandfather, whom they see several times a week. The fact that we are very likely to reduce winter days this winter is not a direct disadvantage of the decision.
Narcolepsy as a result of the swine flu vaccination with Pandemrix 2009 was the worst drug disaster since the Thalidomide scandal in my eyes. Pandemrix was developed in a hurry and tested on too few people. It had a very strong adjuvant, which is a substance in vaccine that is used to boost the immune system. Only Pandemrix caused narcolepsy, not other swine flu vaccines. Natural swine flu infection also posed an increased risk like Pandemrix but not as strong a risk increase as Pandemrix.
There is much to indicate that the strong adjuvant used was the culprit in drama, possibly through interaction with how the virus component itself was designed. The same virus component is found in the seasonal flu vaccine Flurarix. Fluarix has not been shown to produce narcolepsy and in Sweden and the EU (except Finland), the pharmaceutical authorities do not consider the risk of narcolepsy to be increased with Fluarix. However, Finland has acted differently and does not recommend Fluarix to children under 18 years. Other seasonal influenza vaccines contain virus parts produced in other laboratories, in a slightly different way and are also considered safe by Finnish authorities for use in children.
When should my child be vaccinated?
As soon as possible when the vaccine has arrived. Children who have not previously received seasonal influenza vaccine should receive two doses at one month intervals, for those who have previously received one dose.