European Journal of Pediatrics

, Volume 165, Issue 4, pp 223–228 | Cite as

Should healthy children be vaccinated against influenza?

A consensus report of the Summits of Independent European Vaccination Experts
  • Terho HeikkinenEmail author
  • Robert Booy
  • Magda Campins
  • Adam Finn
  • Per Olcén
  • Heikki Peltola
  • Carlos Rodrigo
  • Heinz-Josef Schmitt
  • Fabian Schumacher
  • Stephen Teo
  • Catherine Weil-Olivier


Influenza is often regarded as an illness of the elderly portion of the population because most of the excess mortality associated with influenza epidemics occurs in that age group. However, evidence derived from a large number of clinical studies carried out in different countries and various settings has clearly demonstrated that the burden of influenza is also substantial in children. The attack rates of influenza during annual epidemics are consistently highest in children, and young children are hospitalized for influenza-related illnesses at rates comparable to those for adults with high-risk conditions. Especially among children younger than 3 years of age, influenza frequently predisposes the patient to bacterial complications such as acute otitis media. Children also serve as the main transmitters of influenza in the community. A safe and effective vaccine against influenza has been available for decades, but the vaccine is rarely used even for children with high-risk conditions. Despite several existing problems related to influenza vaccination of children, the current evidence indicates that the advantages of vaccinating young children would clearly outweigh the disadvantages. Considering the total burden of influenza in children, children younger than 3 years of age should be regarded as a high-risk group for influenza, analogously with the age-based definition of high risk among persons 65 years of age or older. Annual influenza vaccination should be recommended to all children from 6 months to 3 years of age.


Influenza Influenza vaccines Child Immunization programs Burden of illness Hospitalization 



Acute otitis media


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Terho Heikkinen
    • 1
    Email author
  • Robert Booy
    • 2
  • Magda Campins
    • 3
  • Adam Finn
    • 4
  • Per Olcén
    • 5
  • Heikki Peltola
    • 6
  • Carlos Rodrigo
    • 7
  • Heinz-Josef Schmitt
    • 8
  • Fabian Schumacher
    • 9
  • Stephen Teo
    • 2
  • Catherine Weil-Olivier
    • 10
  1. 1.Department of PediatricsTurku University HospitalTurkuFinland
  2. 2.Centre for Child Health, Institute of Community Health Sciences, Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary and Westfield CollegeUniversity of LondonLondonUK
  3. 3.Servicio de Medicina Preventiva y EpidemiologiaHospital Universitari Vall d’HebronBarcelonaSpain
  4. 4.Institute of Child Health, UBHT Education CentreUniversity of BristolBristolUK
  5. 5.Department of Clinical MicrobiologyÖrebro University HospitalÖrebroSweden
  6. 6.Hospital for Children and AdolescentsHelsinki University Central HospitalHelsinkiFinland
  7. 7.Department of PaediatricsUniversity Hospital "Germans Trias I Pujol"BarcelonaSpain
  8. 8.Centre for Preventive PaediatricsJohannes Gutenberg UniversityMainzGermany
  9. 9.Clinica PediatricaUniversità degli Studi di BresciaBresciaItaly
  10. 10.Service de Pádiatria GénéraleHôpital Louis MourierColombesFrance

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