Home Medizin Studie zeigt, dass im Oktober geborene Kinder nach der Impfung seltener an Grippe erkranken

Studie zeigt, dass im Oktober geborene Kinder nach der Impfung seltener an Grippe erkranken

von NFI Redaktion

A study conducted by the Harvard Medical School in collaboration with Massachusetts General Hospital in the USA has found that the flu vaccine administered in October provides the greatest protection against seasonal flu infections in young children.

The study is published in the British Medical Journal.


Study: Optimal timing of flu vaccination in young children: population-based cohort study. Image source: Ira Lichi / Shutterstock










Study: Optimal timing of flu vaccination in young children: population-based cohort study. Image source: Ira Lichi / Shutterstock

Background

Current guidelines from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend administering a flu vaccine to children and older adults in September or October to maximize protection against seasonal flu virus infections.

Administering the vaccine too early, such as during the summer months, may lead to a decrease in vaccine effectiveness during the upcoming flu season (September to May). Similarly, delaying the vaccination may expose individuals to circulating influenza virus without achieving vaccine-induced immunity.

The timing of flu vaccination is especially crucial for young children, who are at higher risk for severe infections and associated hospitalizations. Young children typically receive vaccinations during well-child visits, which often coincide around their birthday. Therefore, a child’s birthday likely influences the timing of flu vaccination.

In this study, researchers analyzed the influenza diagnosis rate among vaccinated children to determine the optimal vaccination timing.

Study Design

The study population included commercially insured children aged 2 to 5 years who received a flu vaccine between 2011 and 2018. Only children with birthdays between August 1 and January 31 were included, as their birthday is assumed to influence the timing of flu vaccination.

Medical data of participants were collected from the MarketScan Research Database, which contains insurance claims from approximately 30 to 40 million commercially insured Americans. Factors considered in the analysis included age, gender, healthcare utilization, medical comorbidities of the child, number of policy beneficiaries, medical comorbidities, and healthcare utilization of family members.

The data were analyzed to determine the optimal timing of influenza vaccination and its impact on the flu diagnosis rate in vaccinated young children.

Key Findings

A total of 819,223 children who received a flu vaccine during a specific flu season between August and January were included in the analysis. A similar pattern in vaccination timing and a different pattern in flu diagnosis timing were observed in the study.

Medical data analysis revealed that the majority of children received a flu vaccine in October. The lowest likelihood of an influenza diagnosis was observed in children vaccinated in November or December compared to those vaccinated in other months.

As mentioned by the researchers, the timing of vaccination can be influenced by numerous factors, so they were unable to establish a causal link between vaccination timing and flu diagnosis. Instead, they examined the associations between birth month, timing of wellness visits and vaccinations, and the risk of flu infection.

Birth Month and Vaccination Timing

Around 90% of enrolled children who were vaccinated in August and January had a wellness visit during that period. Among 2-year-olds, 3-year-olds, 4-year-olds, and 5-year-olds, approximately 56%, 59%, 51%, and 41% had a visit within two weeks of their birth month, and the majority of these children were vaccinated on the day of the wellness visit.

In contrast, children born in December or January showed a lower likelihood of receiving the vaccine on the day of the wellness visit. One possible reason could be that many of these children had already received the vaccine earlier in the fall.

A variation in vaccination timing was observed across birth months. The average duration between birth month and vaccination timing was 10 weeks for children born in August, 12 weeks for those born in October, and 14 weeks for those born in December. Children born in October were significantly more likely to be vaccinated in the same month compared to children born in other months.

Birth Month and Flu Diagnosis

The lowest influenza diagnosis rate was observed in children born in October. Specifically, the average infection diagnosis rate over the flu season was 3% for children born in August, 2.7% for those born in October, and 2.9% for those born in December.

Study Significance

The study concludes that children born in October are most commonly vaccinated against the flu virus in October and are least likely to be diagnosed with a flu infection in the following flu season.

These findings support CDC recommendations to promote vaccinations in October to prevent flu outbreaks.

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