Researchers at McMaster University have found that children who receive years of season-specific flu vaccines develop antibodies that also provide broader protection against new strains, including those capable of causing pandemics.
The same ability does not exist in adults.
The findings, reported today in the journal Cell Reports Medicine, could inform the design of a universal influenza virus vaccine for children, who are especially vulnerable to serious complications from flu, such as pneumonia, dehydration and, in rare cases, death.
“Little is known about how seasonal flu vaccination impacts the immune responses in children, who are a major source of flu transmission and a very high-risk group,” explains Matthew Miller, lead author of the study and Associate Professor at the Michael G. DeGroote Institute for Infectious Diseases Research. “Understanding how seasonal vaccination and different vaccine formulations shape childhood immunity is critical for effective prevention.”