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Alert Number 216

Two Flu Shots Better than One?

Date: January 25, 2007

One of our members brought to my attention the Reuter’s Health report (attached below), suggesting that two flu shots may be better than one to protect young children. The obvious question is whether the same approach would be of use in CLL patients who are not likely to mount much of an immune response to just a single flu shot. I did not know the answer to that question, and therefore asked our favorite CLL expert Dr. Terry Hamblin. His answer is a resounding “Yes!” With his permission, I quote his reply:

I had a conversation with the National Public Health Lab about this. They definitely recommend two flu shots 8 weeks apart for patients who are likely to be immunodeficient.

So, for those of you who have the ability to sweet talk your GP into giving you two flu shots, eight weeks apart, this may be something worth considering.  PC and I have already had our flu shots back in October.  But you can be sure we will be getting double flu shots starting next year.

Be well,


News Report:


Two flu shots needed to protect young children

Tue Jan 23, 2007 7:20pm ET

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Infants and toddlers given two doses of the influenza vaccine are less likely to contract flu, pneumonia and influenza-like illnesses, but one dose does not appear to have any effect, according to findings published in the Journal of Pediatrics.

Dr. Mandy A. Allison, of the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, and colleagues examined the effectiveness of the currently recommended two-dose influenza vaccine for young children, as well as the effect of one dose of the vaccine, in preventing visits to the doctor for influenza-like illness.

They analyzed data for 5193 healthy children between the ages of 6 and 21 months who were seen at five Denver pediatric practices during the 2003-2004 flu season. The average age of the children was 15.5 months.

The kids were defined as being partially vaccinated if they had one shot more than 14 days before the first influenza-like illness visit, and fully vaccinated if they had the full two shots more than 14 days before the first visit.

Overall, 28 percent of the children were seen for influenza-like illness and 5 percent had a visit for pneumonia/influenza.

Full vaccination was 69 percent effective in preventing office visits for influenza-like illness and 87 percent effective in preventing office visits for pneumonia/influenza. This is comparable to the effectiveness of the vaccine in adults.

However, the partially vaccinated children were just as likely to be seen for influenza-like illness or pneumonia/influenza as were unvaccinated children.

The results confirm the effectiveness of two doses of flu vaccine and "lend support to the recommendation for universal immunization against influenza in 6- to 23-month-old children," Allison's team concludes.

SOURCE: Journal of Pediatrics, December 2006.

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