A study published today in the journal Pediatrics reports that a single dose of the seasonal flu vaccine, which includes protection against the pandemic H1N1 strain, can significantly lower hospitalization rates for children between the ages of 6 months and 9 years.
Young children are typically given a two-dose vaccine against flu, because their immune systems can better metabolize two pediatric doses given 30 days apart.
But the study, conducted in Canada using hospitalization and vaccination records from the 2009 flu season, found that even one pediatric dose of vaccine was found to be 85 percent effective in preventing flu, as soon as 10-14 days after the dose was administered. Different ages were protected at different rates after the single dose, with 6-23-month-olds having the highest level of protection, 92 percent.
The World Health Organization has officially declared an end to the H1N1 pandemic, though the strain will continue to circulate for years to come. The WHO and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urge everyone over 6 months of age to receive a flu vaccine and follow good sanitary practices such as frequent hand-washing and covering nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing.