Influenza vaccination: reasonable protection for children?

  • Basic information flu
  • Recommendations stico
  • Child vaccination recommendation
  • Types of Vaccines and their security
  • conclusion

Influenza – also called influenza – is caused by influenza viruses Effects. Influenza should be taken seriously as it can sometimes be life threatening. We’ll tell you when vaccination is recommended and what you should know about the flu.

Things to know about the flu

Influenza is an acute respiratory disease. Unlike so-called influenza infections or colds, they are caused by influenza viruses. Especially in the winter months In Germany, influenza is spread with varying degrees of severity. infection occurs From human to human, by airborne droplets containing the virus or by touching hands that have previously touched secretions containing the virus. Transmission can also occur via objects contaminated with the pathogen, such as toys or door handles. As a rule, one is contagious for about a week after the first symptoms of the disease appear. An exception are children or people with weakened immune systems Pathogens are excreted for a longer time. It is important to adhere to hygiene measures in case of illness and to avoid further spread. This includes washing your hands regularly, sneezing and coughing into the fold of your arm, and staying home during the illness stage.

Because the flu viruses are the same Constantly changing and new variables Figure, the corresponding vaccine is also adapted almost every year. Typical symptoms From infection, for example, a sudden feeling of illness, accompanied by fever, sore throat, dry cough, and often also muscle, joint, back or headache pain. Nausea and loss of appetite are also common features of this disease. How long symptoms last and how severe they are varies from person to person. While uncomplicated illness usually lasts only 5-7 days, serious illness can, in the worst case, result in death. Possible complications It is pneumonia and middle ear infections in children. Encephalitis or myocarditis is less common. This complication, which can be caused by the influenza virus, is usually especially feared.

a high risk The elderly, pregnant women and people with a chronic illness are responsible for the acute course of the disease. To protect yourself from influenza, vaccination is recommended. The vaccination is usually given annually in October or November. The reason for booster vaccination is that the vaccine adapts every year to potential new variants of the influenza virus.

STIKO . Recommendations

The Standing Committee on Immunization (STIKO) speaks There is no general recommendation for influenza vaccination Outside. Instead, the recommendation is limited to people at risk of developing serious illness. Therefore STIKO recommends vaccination for the following groups of people:

  • People who 60 years and over be
  • pregnant women From the second trimester of pregnancy. If there is a chronic underlying disease, already from the first trimester of pregnancy
  • Children, youth and adults with Increased health risks According to the basic condition. This means, for example, chronic diseases of the respiratory system, heart or circulatory diseases, liver or kidney disease, diabetes or other metabolic diseases, chronic neurological diseases such as multiple sclerosis, congenital or later acquired immune system disorders or HIV infection Humanity
  • Workers and residents of nursing homes or elderly care
  • people because of professional environment They have an increased risk of injuring themselves and others. This includes, for example, medical staff or personnel in facilities with high public traffic

The reason the recommendation does not include healthy children and adults under the age of 60 is that they The flu is usually without serious complications runs. However, this does not mean in principle that others are advised not to vaccinate.

Immunization recommendations for children, its preventive effect, and vaccines

In a few EU countries, such as Finland, Lithuania and Slovakia, the flu vaccine is used Also recommended for healthy children. However, there is no generalized vaccination recommendation for all children and adolescents here either. Corresponding recommendations are made in countries for certain age groups Healthy children, such as those between the ages of 6 months and 11 years. The fact that countries offer different vaccination recommendations than Germany is due to different factors Strategies For the prevention of influenza diseases. Germany is strategically committed to issuing a recommendation to those who Increased risk of developing severe disease Because they especially benefit from vaccination. In other countries, vaccination recommendations are given for healthy children, for example, because children are often the main source of infection and therefore the general circulation of the virus must be reduced. Currently, STIKO does not provide a general recommendation or recommendation for healthy children because the existing data are not yet comprehensive enough.

Stiftung Warentest takes a different position on influenza vaccination than Steko: the former assumes that it makes sense To protect every child from the influenza virus through vaccination. This is due to the fact that children have a lot of social contacts, for example in kindergarten or at school and within the family. In addition, young children do not particularly think about hygiene measures. Thus, vaccination will not only protect the child from the flu epidemic, but also others.

The Robert Koch Institute notes that The seasonal influenza vaccine is usually well tolerated. As with other vaccines, it can occur due to exposure of an organism to the vaccine Transient local reactions Come. You should be aware that vaccination never provides 100% protection. Accordingly, potential influenza illness must still be considered if the corresponding symptoms appear despite vaccination. The level of effectiveness of the active ingredient varies from season to season. Because different viruses or parts of other (subtypes) of viruses can circulate repeatedly during the season, the protective effect can vary in terms of its effectiveness. If the vaccine matches the circulating variant well, it can Protective effect up to 80% in young people is determined. Since the immune system is often weaker in the elderly, protection from vaccination is less reliable in many cases – it is between 41% and 63%. There are two different types of flu vaccines for children. In addition to the dead vaccine, there is a so-called live vaccine, which does not have to be injected, but rather is given in the form of nasal drops. This is available for children and young adults between the ages of 2 and 17. This vaccination is also considered very good. Both types, i.e. both spray and syringe, can be used equally. It is important to remember that the live vaccine cannot be given in some underlying diseases such as immunodeficiency or severe asthma.


Influenza vaccination can prevent a corresponding infection. There is no clear answer as to whether a flu vaccination is beneficial for your child. STIKO does not explicitly recommend healthy children, unless you have a child with an increased health risk due to an underlying disease. On the other hand, Stiftung Warentest recommends vaccination for all children. If you are not sure if you want to vaccinate your child, you can Get individual advice on this topic from your pediatrician. Here you can also clarify the most appropriate vaccine.

Since different (subtypes) of the virus evolve each year, it is important to get a booster dose in October or November of each year, adapted to circulating variables.

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