Single H1N1 Swine Flu Shot for Kids?
Australian Study Shows That 1 H1N1 Shot May Protect Kids; CDC Disagrees
Daniel J. DeNoon
WebMD Health News
Louise Chang, MD
Dec. 21, 2009 -- Can kids get by with just one dose of the H1N1 swine flu vaccine?
The Latest on
H1N1 Swine Flu
Learn about H1N1 swine flu:
Yes, an Australian study suggests. No, says the CDC -- they'll still need
Australian researchers report that a 15-microgram dose of H1N1 vaccine --
double the dose approved for U.S. kids under age 3 but the same dose given to
older kids -- raised anti-H1N1 antibodies to protective levels in more than 90%
of children ages 6 months to 9 years.
But the CDC warns parents not to act on this information, noting that that
in other studies, kids needed two doses of the H1N1 swine flu vaccine for
Terry Nolan, MBBS, PhD, of the University of Melbourne, Australia, and
colleagues gave kids either 15-microgram or 30-microgram doses of the vaccine.
In the U.S., kids under age 3 get 7.5-microgram doses and other kids and adults
get 15-microgram doses.
Each child got a second shot three weeks later. That second shot wasn't
necessary, Nolan and colleagues suggest. The first one raised anti-H1N1
antibodies to protective levels in 92.5% of kids in the 15-microgram group and
in 97.7% of the 30-microgram group.
The second dose gave protection to 100% of the kids. There were no serious
"Our findings suggest that a single-dose 15-microgram vaccine regimen may be
effective and well tolerated in children, and may have positive implications
for disease protection and reduced transmission of pandemic H1N1 in the wider
population," Nolan and colleagues conclude.
CDC flu experts Anthony Fiore, MD, MPH, and Kathleen Neuzil, MD, MPH,
disagree in an editorial published along with the Nolan report in the Dec. 21
early-release issue of the Journal of the American Medical
"It is premature to assume that only one dose will be needed to provide
adequate protection for all young children based on these data," Fiore and
Why? The CDC researchers note that:
- The "protective" level of antibodies seen in the Nolan study is the level
at which only 50% of people will be protected.
- Infants and kids not previously vaccinated all need two doses of any flu
vaccine for protection.
- A significant percentage of the kids in the Australian study (up to a third
of those over ages 3 to 9 years) had pre-existing antibodies to H1N1 --
suggesting that before entering the study, they may have had a symptomless
swine flu infection that primed their immune responses.
- Anti-H1N1 antibody levels in kids who got just one dose of the vaccine were
30% lower than those seen in adults given one dose of the vaccine.
- The kids in the Australian study were healthy, and the vaccine is expected
to be somewhat less potent in kids with chronic medical conditions, who are at
highest risk of severe swine flu complications.
Nolan and colleagues, however, question the two-dose approach and suggest
that a single, larger dose might be a better strategy to more quickly protect
communities against H1N1 swine flu.
SOURCES: Nolan, T. Journal of the American Medical Association, published
online Dec. 21, 2009.
Fiore, A.E. and Neuzil, K.M. Journal of the American Medical
Association, published online Dec. 21, 2009.
News release, Journal of the American Medical Association.
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