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Despite the flu wave, Stiko does not recommend influenza vaccination for children - why?

2022-12-26T09:43:49.209Z

Despite the flu wave, Stiko does not recommend influenza vaccination for children - why? Created: 12/26/2022, 10:30 am By: Yannick Hanke Despite the flu epidemic, Stiko does not recommend influenza vaccination for children. Paediatricians may also administer appropriate vaccines without this recommendation. © Daniel Vogl/dpa According to the RKI, almost every fourth child in Germany currently



Despite the flu wave, Stiko does not recommend influenza vaccination for children - why?

Created: 12/26/2022, 10:30 am

By: Yannick Hanke

Despite the flu epidemic, Stiko does not recommend influenza vaccination for children.

Paediatricians may also administer appropriate vaccines without this recommendation.

© Daniel Vogl/dpa

According to the RKI, almost every fourth child in Germany currently suffers from flu-like symptoms.

Nevertheless, the Stiko only recommends an influenza vaccination to a limited extent.

Berlin – Germany is in the middle of an acute wave of influenza.

The flu pathogen runs through almost all age groups, especially children and young people are affected.

According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), around eleven percent of 0-14 year olds suffer from a respiratory disease.

They also develop a fever.

And as

tagesschau.de

writes, the rate would have been lower even during the severe flu epidemic of 2017/2018.

At that time, the corresponding figure was between eight and nine percent.

And despite all this, the Standing Vaccination Commission (Stiko) pronounces almost no influenza vaccination for children.

There are reasons.

But which ones?

A scientific approach.

Despite the flu wave, Stiko does not recommend influenza vaccination for children - why?

In fact, Stiko currently only advises older people and vulnerable groups to be vaccinated against influenza.

Children who are infected with influenza have a significantly higher secondary attack rate than adults.

Means: You infect significantly more other people.

The situation is different when children are infected with the corona virus.

With regard to influenza, according to the Federal Center for Health Education (BZgA), a further aggravating factor is that a third of the infected children are contagious even though they show no symptoms.

But anyone who argues with protection from others must also see that many of the vulnerable groups in particular are not vaccinated.

Fred Zepp, Stiko member and former head of the children's clinic at the University Hospital Mainz, notes this.

External protection as an argument for influenza vaccination in children?

Might be justified

According to the RKI, even in the Corona winter of 2020/2021, not even every second person over 60 in Germany was immunized against influenza.

The corresponding vaccination is also not widely accepted by nursing staff who have regular contact with vulnerable groups and who are therefore also required to wear a mask.

A Lancet study shows that vaccination can reduce influenza mortality in hospitals.

"Vaccinating children primarily with the aim of protecting third parties can sometimes be justified, for example in the case of immunodeficient family members," says Zepp in this context.

On the other hand, it is "ethically questionable" if a child is only vaccinated against the background of "reducing the economic burden on society as a whole".

However, not every country behaves like Germany in this regard.

In Finland and the UK, for example, children in different age groups are vaccinated, according to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).

A look back to 2004 shows: Stiko had also argued with the protection of others before.

At that time it was about a recommendation for the chickenpox vaccination.

The debate at the time was also about protecting infected parents from losing their jobs.

But according to Zepp, what was more decisive was that, in the worst case, the children would have been confronted with serious complications such as life-threatening coagulation disorders.

According to the RKI, this is not so rarely the case with children infected with chickenpox.

According to the study, flu vaccination can reduce severe disease in children by 74 percent

Accordingly, in the context of influenza vaccination for children, Stiko is concerned with a fundamental and individual benefit for those affected.

Finally, vaccination would constitute a medical intervention.

On this basis, the Stiko argues in a similarly cautious manner as with a corona vaccination for children: severe courses and secondary diseases are rare for them.

But a 2012 study showed that getting the flu shot reduced the likelihood of a child requiring intensive care for influenza by 74 percent.

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The combination of the corona virus, RSV (RS virus) and influenza is currently causing above-average infection rates in Germany.

Doctors and clinics are reaching their limits, and the situation is extremely tricky for children.

The hospitals in particular had repeatedly sounded the alarm.

It is the acute overload, far beyond one's own capacities, that has long since become a major problem.

From a statistical point of view, serious courses of events in children, which are rather rare, are particularly noticeable in this extreme situation.

Paediatricians administer influenza vaccinations even without a Stiko recommendation - no legal problem

That's why many pediatricians in the country don't want to wait any longer for a Stiko recommendation and therefore administer the vaccine without it.

“Children seem to be particularly affected.

In this respect, it makes much more sense this season to ask parents to vaccinate their small children against influenza," says Martin Terhardt, a pediatrician from Berlin and himself a Stiko member.

From a legal point of view, this is not a problem.

After all, the inactivated vaccine against influenza is also approved for people over the age of six months.

And: Most health insurance companies pay for the injection vaccination for all age groups.

(Data as of December 23, 2022)

Source: merkur

All news articles on 2022-12-26

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