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Influenza arrived early for children, symptoms and how the vaccine works

This year, like last year, the flu arrived early and many people, especially children, have already fallen ill with the arrival of the cold.
Antonio Davino, president of the Italian Federation of Pediatric Doctors (Fimp), made it known that those most affected are the youngest children, in the age group between 0 and 4 years.
In addition to the actual flu, colds, parainfluenza viruses, gastroenteritis and Covid, which as always run in parallel.
Normally, the peak of infections is not expected before December or January, but this year the offices of pediatricians and general practitioners are already very crowded during November.
Younger children are also often affected by respiratory diseases caused by adenovirus, rhinovirus and – particularly within the 1st year of life – by the respiratory syncytial virus which also causes bronchiolitis.
For this reason, pediatricians remind us of the importance of prevention, which occurs above all through the flu vaccination, this year offered free of charge by the Ministry of Health for children up to 6 years of age.
Influenza in advance Silvestro Scotti, general secretary of the Federation of general practitioners (Fimmg), outlined a picture of the flu epidemic for Adnkronos Health, also explaining that the change in the data collection method does not allow the infections to be analyzed precisely compared to the flu alone.
In particular, there is talk of a slightly higher trend compared to 2022, while Covid cases are decreasing, at least as regards cases with evident symptoms.
Influenza alone, however, accounts for 2/3 of cases of acute illnesses referred to family doctors.
As regards children up to 4 years old, there are approximately 12 cases per 1,000 children.
Even for the most at risk group, the over 65s, infections are under control: 4 per 1,000 people.
Finally, in middle age, there are approximately 8 cases out of 1,000.
read also Influenza 2023, symptoms, prevention and when the peak will be The symptoms The flu can be caused by different types of viruses, which have the ability to mutate rapidly to counteract the body's defenses.
This is why the flu vaccine is repeated annually, because otherwise it would not be updated based on the circulating viruses.
Regardless of which virus caused the disease, influenza in children manifests itself with some characteristic symptoms.
In particular, after incubation (between 1 and 3 days) the following occur: Fever; heachache; malaise; bone and muscle pain.
Respiratory symptoms then appear, namely: cough; nasal congestion; sore throat.
Infants, on the other hand, generally do not have a fever, but are more likely to vomit and diarrhoea.
Overall, the flu resolves in a week, excluding complications (such as pneumonia of bacterial origin which must be treated specifically).
Particular attention must therefore be paid to children with chronic diseases, who are more exposed to serious complications than healthy children, as well as those over 65 and pregnant women.
read also Intestinal flu 2023, boom in cases in Italy: how long it lasts and how to treat it The flu vaccine for children, how it works In Italy there are different types of flu vaccine for children, with formulations suitable for different age groups.
In detail, there are three types of quadrivalent vaccines (effective against 2 types of virus A and 2 types of virus B), namely: The inactivated split or subunit vaccine (VIQ) for children from 6 months to 9 years; an inactivated vaccine grown in cell cultures (VIQcc) for children aged 2 years and older; an attenuated vaccine (LAIV) for the 2-18 age group.
The latter does not generate flu symptoms and is milder.
This vaccine is administered as a nasal spray, which must be repeated after 4 weeks if the child is under 9 years old and has never been vaccinated against influenza.
The other two vaccines are instead administered with intramuscular injection on the external part of the thigh and then on the deltoid muscle (arm) for children aged 2 years and older.
In any case, vaccines cannot be administered to children who have developed Guillan Barré syndrome within 6 months of receiving a previous dose.
The spray vaccine is contraindicated in children with severe allergies to egg proteins and gentamicin and also in children treated with salicylate-based drugs.
The vaccine is not indicated for children with immunosuppression and severe asthma or active wheezing.
It is not mandatory to postpone the vaccine in case of mild illnesses, although the pediatrician's opinion is always necessary, also regarding any specific contraindications due to the presence of illnesses, allergies or ongoing treatments.
read also The new symptoms of the Covid variant of November 2023

Author: A.W.M.

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