Protection of children against influenza: Emerging problems

Nicola Principi, Susanna Esposito

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Influenza is a common disease and in children it can be severe enough to lead to hospitalization and death. Protection of all children against influenza, particularly the youngest, is strongly recommended by most health authorities. However, available vaccines cannot be used in the first 6 months of age, a period of life characterized by the highest risk of influenza-related complications. Maternal immunization is an attractive possibility to overcome this problem. For years, protection against influenza has been pursued by administering the trivalent inactivated vaccine given intramuscularly (IIV3). More recently, a trivalent live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV3) administered intranasally was licensed and adopted in a number of countries as an alternative to IIV3. In recent years, to increase protection and include a second B strain, quadrivalent inactivated (IIV4) and live attenuated vaccines (LAIV4) were prepared and licensed. However, during the 2015–2016 season the effectiveness of LAIVs was debated, and they were withdrawn from the list of recommended influenza vaccines in the USA. This review presents an update on the evidence related to the protection of infants against influenza through maternal immunization and the effectiveness of LAIV. Available data indicates that despite maternal immunization, a number of children have no protective antibody levels at birth, and in the majority of children with antibody protection, it is limited to the first 8 weeks of the postnatal period. Moreover, data on LAIV effectiveness in the pediatric population must be clarified because this vaccine can significantly improve vaccination coverage in children.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)750-757
Number of pages8
JournalHuman Vaccines and Immunotherapeutics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 4 2018


  • influenza
  • influenza vaccination
  • LAIV
  • live attenuated influenza vaccine
  • maternal immunization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Pharmacology


Dive into the research topics of 'Protection of children against influenza: Emerging problems'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this