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To determine the right child dose, the NIH set up studies involving 600 children, from babies to teenagers.
About 76 percent of 10- to 17-year-olds showed strong protection after one H1N1 shot. That's similar to the protection seen with regular winter flu vaccine. It doesn't mean the rest didn't respond at all, just that they didn't have as strong a response, officials cautioned.
But just over a third of 3- to 9-year-olds showed strong protection from the swine flu shot, and only a quarter of babies and toddlers ages 6 months to 3 years, Fauci said.
That response was measured eight to 10 days after the shot, and flu protection usually builds over several weeks so the numbers could improve somewhat, he said. But he wasn't optimistic that the under-10 crowd would be able to skip the booster dose. Doubling the dose in the shot from a standard 15 micrograms of antigen to 30 micrograms didn't improve the response.
Younger children simply "don't have as mature an immune system," Fauci explained. So a first dose of vaccine against a flu strain they've never experienced acts as an introduction for their immune system, and a booster shortly thereafter revs up that immune response.
Side effects are no different from those with regular flu vaccine, such as redness and soreness at the injection site and occasional low fever or headache.
Monday's study didn't examine FluMist, the nasal-spray flu vaccine. The first 3.4 million doses of swine flu vaccine to be shipped early next month will be the FluMist version, which can be used by healthy people ages 2 to 49. But health officials said they expected young children to need two doses of FluMist as well.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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