Video: School-Based Vaccination Program Is Effective at Reducing the Impact of Influenza in Students and Their Families

Children and Their Families in a Multi-State Study Displayed Fewer Flu


Dec 19, 2006, 00:00 ET from University of Maryland School of Medicine

    BALTIMORE, Dec. 19 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A national study led by
 researchers from the University of Maryland School of Medicine finds giving
 the nasal spray flu vaccine to elementary school students can significantly
 help reduce the impact of influenza on children and members of their
 family. The study compared families of children who attend schools where
 the vaccine was given with families of children in schools not targeted to
 receive the vaccine.
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     The results of the study, published in the December 14, 2006, edition
 of The New England Journal of Medicine, indicate that vaccinating school
 children is an effective way of helping control the spread of influenza in
 community settings.
     "Approximately 36,000 people nationwide die from influenza each year,
 with the majority of those deaths in the elderly and the very young. In
 addition, about 200,000 hospitalizations result from influenza infections
 each year," says James King, M.D., a professor of pediatrics at the
 University of Maryland School of Medicine and principal investigator of the
     "Many studies have shown that children are the primary transmitters of
 influenza to their families and communities. Our research shows that
 school- based immunization is an effective way to vaccinate large numbers
 of school children, and once they are protected, so are their families. The
 nasal spray flu vaccine is well suited for this type of program," says Dr.
 King, who is also head of the division of general pediatrics at the
 University of Maryland Hospital for Children.
     A total of 2,717 healthy students over age five (almost half of the
 children in the targeted schools) were given the nasal spray influenza
 vaccine. The study, which was conducted during the 2004 flu season,
 included children from 24 public elementary schools in Maryland, Texas and
 Minnesota and four private schools in the state of Washington.
     The schools were grouped into clusters with respect to geography,
 ethnicity and socioeconomic status. In each of the 11 clusters, one school
 was selected as the intervention school and healthy students over the age
 of five were offered nasal spray influenza vaccine. The other participating
 schools were designated as control schools.
     "Compared to the group with non-vaccinated school children, there was a
 23 to 36 percent relative reduction in adult and child influenza-like
 illnesses in the intervention school households," says Dr. King.
     "In addition, there was a 25 to 40 percent reduction in medical office
 visits, household use of prescriptions, humidifiers and over-the-counter
 medications, as well as school days missed by elementary and high school
 students in the intervention households and work days missed by adults.
 This was a remarkable reduction given the one-week time frame we were
 monitoring in our study, out of a typical 8-12 week flu season. Our results
 indicated that elementary school children are amplifiers of influenza
 activity in the community and vaccinating the children offers subsequent
 protection for their family members," Dr. King adds.
     "This study was an amazing cooperative effort among investigators and
 schools in four states," Dr. King continues. "In Maryland alone, the
 program has been duplicated in at least five public school systems. I
 believe the ease of administering nasal spray vaccine without a needle may
 enable us to administer the vaccine to more children. This program is an
 excellent model for pandemic influenza preparedness or other biologic
     This study was funded by MedImmune, Inc., developer and manufacturer of
 FluMist nasal spray, which is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug
 Administration. Dr. King worked closely with MedImmune, Inc., in the
 clinical development of the FluMist nasal spray, which was used in this
 study. He has received grant support from Ross Pharmaceuticals,
 GlaxoSmithKline and MedImmune, Inc.

SOURCE University of Maryland School of Medicine