Young children are particularly often affected by seasonal flu. Children and adolescents suffering from allergies with a chronic respiratory disease (including bronchial asthma) belong to the group of people at risk who, according to the recommendations of the Standing Commission for Vaccination (STIKO), should be vaccinated annually against seasonal flu. Vaccinated people not only protect themselves, but also indirectly protect their parents and grandparents. These, in turn, have a high risk of developing COVID-19 and do not have to contract a severe flu at the same time.
The flu wave begins. Young children are particularly affected by seasonal flu. They become infected particularly quickly and when they come into contact they infect other children and carers, including parents and grandparents. Young children are therefore considered “the fire of the flu”.
With the flu vaccination, which is adapted annually to current conditions, the disease can be prevented or at least weakened. The Standing Vaccination Commission (STIKO) recommends annual vaccination against seasonal flu, even in the COVID-19 pandemic, not for everyone, but for those who have an increased risk of a severe flu course. These include people over 60 years of age, pregnant women from the second trimester of pregnancy (in the case of chronically ill patients also in the first third) and chronic people from 6 months of age with a greater risk to health due to a underlying pathology. The latter group also includes children and adolescents who suffer from allergies with a chronic disease of the respiratory system, including bronchial asthma. A respiratory pollen allergy is not a contraindication for a flu shot!
Since most flu vaccines contain egg white, there are some specifics that apply to people with egg white allergy. According to STIKO, people who react with only mild symptoms to egg white consumption can be vaccinated with all approved flu vaccines. Clinically severe allergies (eg anaphylaxis) to egg white are rare. In the case of people with a severe allergy to chicken proteins diagnosed by a doctor, the indication for vaccination with chicken egg flu vaccines must be strictly established. These people will need post-vaccination monitoring with the ability to treat any anaphylactic reactions that may occur. However, in studies, allergic reactions did not occur more frequently than in people with no chicken protein allergy. In the meantime, however, a chicken protein-free influenza vaccine is also available, i.e. produced in cell cultures and approved for ages 9 and up.
Most vaccines are given into the upper arm through a syringe. Children and adolescents between the ages of 2 and 17 can also be vaccinated with a live flu vaccine that is sprayed into the nose. If there are obstacles to an injection (e.g. fear of syringes, clotting disorders), it is better to use the live vaccine. However, due to lack of experience, this vaccination is not recommended for allergy sufferers with severe egg white allergies. Children who have not previously been vaccinated against seasonal flu should receive a second dose no earlier than 4 weeks. Since the STIKO recommended vaccination for people at risk, health insurance companies cover the costs of vaccination. In some federal states, a flu shot is even recommended for everyone.
This year, 26 million doses of the vaccine were ordered for Germany. At first it seems like a lot. However, as the willingness to vaccinate increased during the corona pandemic, vaccination doses may soon run out. It is therefore important that risk groups are vaccinated as early as possible. The best time to get vaccinated is October and November. It takes another 2 weeks after vaccination for the immune system to develop protection.
Unlike the flu, young children are far less likely to develop COVID-19, but they can pass the flu on to other people particularly easily. And this could be dangerous for their parents and grandparents, who can then develop flu and COVID-19. How can this be achieved? Children will have to stay at home if kindergartens and schools are closed for quarantine, for example. If parents cannot take care of children, grandparents are also involved in childcare. During close contact, the flu virus is easily transmitted by coughing or sneezing. Even normal speaking or breathing can spread small droplets that can float in the air for longer and infect other people. Furthermore, it can also be transmitted through the hands through direct contact with virus-contaminated surfaces. Viruses are transmitted when the mouth or nose is subsequently touched or hand shaken.
While there have never been so many doses of the flu vaccine, there can still be bottlenecks in time and local deliveries, as is currently the case in some federal states. Therefore, all people at risk, including children and adolescents with allergies with chronic respiratory disease (including bronchial asthma), should be vaccinated in good time. A chicken egg allergy is usually not a problem. Vaccinated people not only protect themselves but also indirectly protect their parents and grandparents. These, in turn, have a high risk of developing COVID-19 and do not have to contract a severe flu at the same time.
(Dr. Ulrich Kümmel, Press and Public Relations, Society for Pediatric Allergology and Environmental Medicine eV)
Source: idw, Society for Pediatric Allergology and Environmental Medicine (GPAU)