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Whaddyaknow? That crazy vaccinate-kids-against-flu strategy just might work

March 9, 2010 |  7:50 pm

Vaccine Kids go to school and share germs, they come home and share germs, they visit relatives and share germs... At no time is this special ability on better display than during influenza season. Logically enough, some public health experts (perhaps having witnessed their own kids' inattention to hygiene or having considered how the virus is actually spread) have been re-considering the longstanding emphasis on first vaccinating the elderly against the flu.

The elderly are usually more at risk of flu complications (this most recent outbreak played out a bit differently than normal), but they're not known as disease carriers. So might it make  sense, from a disease-control standpoint, to focus on vaccinating the group most likely to spread the disease? 

Turns out, that yes, yes, it would.

In a new study, released online Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Assn., Canadian researchers compared flu incidence in small Hutterite colonies that vaccinated kids against the flu to the incidence in small Hutterite colonies that didn't vaccinate kids.

And guess what? Vaccinating kids appeared to reduce the risk of flu transmission communitywide. Here's the key data point: "Immunization of children and adolescents aged 3 to 15 years with the trivalent influenza vaccine formulated for the 2008-2009 influenza season conferred 61% indirect protection against influenza among persons who did not receive the study vaccine."

And guess what else? The vaccination didn't seem to damage the kids.

It's almost as if vaccinating some members of a herd helps protect the entire herd. Crazy, I know.

Here's the full study.

The researchers conclude:

"Our findings offer experimental proof to support selective influenza immunization of school aged children with inactivated influenza vaccine to interrupt influenza transmission. Particularly, if there are constraints in quantity and delivery of vaccine, it may be advantageous to selectively immunize children in order to reduce community transmission of influenza."

"Constraints in quantity and delivery of vaccine ..." that sounds familiar. But not to worry, should we find ourselves in a pandemic flu situation and should we all be at threat from a relatively unknown strain of influenza, you can probably get by without getting your own kids a vaccine.

Such was the thinking last year, as Melissa Healy describes in this story: Parents weigh the risk of vaccinating children for H1N1. And a few weeks later in this story: Most parents won't have kids get H1N1 flu shots, study finds.

In an earlier primer on disease control as it pertains to the flu, staff writer Shari Roan wrote presciently on the topic back in 2008:

"Physicians hope that vaccinating kids en masse will not only spare thousands of them from the aches and pains of flu, missed school days and hospitalizations, but also will hinder the spread of illness throughout the rest of society -- parents, grandparents, baby-sitters, neighbors, teachers, coaches, office workers, healthcare personnel, bus drivers, and on and on.

"This is the concept of herd immunity," says Dr. Stephen C. Aronoff, chairman of the department of pediatrics at Temple University in Philadelphia. "The more people you vaccinate, the less likely you are to see infection in people who are not vaccinated." Full story: Target: Kids.

And then there was this explainer: They help kids -- but mostly benefit the herd

We're now exploring whether there's a growing demand for a more logical, considerate herd.

-- Tami Dennis

Photo credit: Associated Press

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Comments (9)

kids are yucky

I like all of the very weak science, and loose wording of the article. Reminds me of global warming, err climate change, err bad science for grant money...

Whaddyaknow LA Times is bankrupt cause they fail at journalism.

Whaddyaknow I rather get swine flu then take some vaccine.

Whaddyaknow ...


LA TIMES journo's are irresponsible and terribad at journalism. Please find new jobs in another industry. No one likes you guys.

Kids end of having to get 30-34 vaccinations by school age, with booster shots inbetween by 12 years old. This is absurd. These are mostly for regular childhood illnesses that normally would not kill them.
Vaccinations are known to cause many illnesses and diseases. Autism was next to nill before 1970, 1 in 10,000, now it's up to 1 in 150 or more, what does this signify and tell you?

Whaddyaknow ... I would rather not believe in god when all we have is the bible, err weak science.

Whaddyaknow I rather go to h*** then worship a fairytale.

Whaddyaknow I would rather not vote at all then vote for a Tea Party, err weak minded science.

Whaddyaknow I rather understand science then let some high school dropout try to mislead me in anonymous web comments.

Whaddyaknow ...

"Autism was next to nill before 1970, 1 in 10,000, now it's up to 1 in 150 or more, what does this signify and tell you?"

It tells me that you don't know the meaning of signify (hint: you repeated yourself), which makes me doubt anything you write. The increased number? Is it an increase in reporting or actual increase? Are parents older when they conceive now? Do the parents have diabetes or some other risk factor? Are there tons of other potential environmental risk factors besides vaccines? Stop listening to Jenny McCarthy and all the other flatearthers, she's been discredited. I've had every vaccine under the sun since childhood, including all the flu shots. I guess all those vaccines gave me a case of the common sense.

Ask your physician to provide one report that shows the flu shot has any effect at preventing the flu. This is more 4th branch propaganda.

This study is compelling evidence of what the immunization community and I have been stressing to patients for years – immunization is the best way to protect yourself and your community against influenza and other vaccine-preventable diseases. I recently addressed “herd-immunity” and the troubling public shift to a self-centered view of vaccination on my blog. We all need to realize that our vaccination decisions directly impact the health of those around us – kids, spouses and elderly parents.

William Schaffner, MD

President-Elect, National Foundation for Infectious Diseases

Steve1971 said, "Ask your physician to provide one report that shows the flu shot has any effect at preventing the flu."

Hey Steve, you must be terribly dense. The article cited in this blog showed that the flu shot prevented the flu. Not just in the people injected, but in the entire community at large.

The thinking that the Drugs Strategy will save us from a deadly killer Pandemic is something that only fools should subscribe too.

Ab Osterhaus, Declan Butler and Nature Magazine are all culpable in wanting the drug companies to sell billions of pounds worth of swine flu/bird flu drugs. They are all friends of the large pharmaceuticals. What they did not want to see was the alternative strategy emerges of addressing the global threat at source.

For the only way to stop bird flu/Swine flu et al indefinitely is to address the problem at source and never let it happen in the first place. It is the only way.

Otherwise it will one day come back with a vengeance and wipe out a quarter of humanity. The Spanish Flu that killed up to 100 million (a Swine flu variant) will then be seen as the minor event in the world’s history of global pandemics.

Funny how money always rises above human life itself !

The facts are taking the most powerful country in the world the USA as an example,

Time Scale - 0 months
Swine Flu first detected – Influenza A, Novel H1N1 "swine flu" was first detected in Mexico City and was made public March 18, 2009. Therefore the first causality was probably at the beginning of March 2009 taking into account the incubation period.

First Death in USA
Time Scale + 2-months later
at the end of April 2009

1st Vaccine Approved
Time Scale + 6 months 2 weeks
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the new swine flu vaccine for use in the United States on September 15, 2009.

Vaccine 1st ready for use in USA
Time Scale + 7 months 1 week
The vaccine was first ready from mass production and used on 5th October 2009 in the USA

Most Vaccinated City in the USA by 22nd March 2010
Time Scale + 1 year 1month 1 week
Massachusetts vaccinated more residents against the swine flu and seasonal flu in the fall and winter than any other state.
Up to the end of Winter (March 2010) - The Massachusetts Department of Public Health says 36 percent of residents were inoculated against the swine flu, also known as H1N1, compared with 21 percent nationally. Seasonal flu vaccinations were administered to 57 percent of the population, compared with 37 percent nationwide.
A mere 36% in one USA city and where nationally only 21% had the vaccine by March 22nd 2010.

The Spanish flu of 1917/18 did its worst between week 16 and week 26.

Considering this fact by the time we get any vaccine, most of us will be well dead. Fact not fiction. Therefore the vaccine strategy is totally flawed and we have to move from this stupid strategy to a standpoint of never letting it happen in the first place – the preventative strategy not cure strategy and the only strategy that will actually work.

That strategy is -


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