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Friday, February 25, 2005

No Evidence Flu Jabs Work for Under-2s - Study

Patricia Reaney

There is no evidence that vaccinating children under 2 years old against influenza reduces deaths or complications from the illness, researchers said on Friday.

They reviewed 25 studies that looked at the impact of vaccines in cutting the number of cases of influenza and its symptoms in children up to 16.

Children under 2 are vaccinated against flu in the United States and Canada.

"Immunization of very young children is not lent support by our findings," said Dr Tom Jefferson, of the Cochrane Vaccines Field in Rome, part of the international Cochrane Collaboration that evaluates medical research.

"We recorded no convincing evidence that vaccines can reduce mortality, admissions, serious complications and community transmission of influenza," he added in a report in The Lancet medical journal.

Influenza vaccine campaigns are usually targeted at people over 65.

U.S. and Canadian health officials have recommended that children aged 6-23 months should also be immunized.

Last year the American Academy of Pediatrics updated its guidelines, saying healthy babies under 2 should be routinely immunized against the virus. It followed recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Each year, influenza kills an average of 36,000 Americans and puts 114,000 in hospital.

"In young children below the age of 2, we could find no evidence that the vaccine was different from a placebo," Jefferson told Reuters.

He added that the findings do not mean vaccinations do not work in young children but they found no evidence that it does. There was no indication the vaccines caused any harm or reason to believe they were unsafe.

The findings are part of a bigger Cochrane Review expected to be released later this year.

Posted by Becca

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