No Need to Fear the Flu Shot

Flu shot for kids with inflammatory bowel disease may not cause side effects

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Chris Galloway, M.D.

(RxWiki News) One of the concerns parents might have with the flu vaccine is side effects in children with pre-existing conditions, such as inflammatory bowel disease.

Yet a recent study found that kids with inflammatory bowel disease were no more likely to have side effects from the flu vaccine than other kids.

In fact, children with inflammatory bowel disease were less likely to have a medical incident occur in the months after the vaccine than they were during other time periods without the vaccine.

"Review the CDC's recommended vaccination schedule."

The study, led by Eric I. Benchimol, of the Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition at Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Canada, aimed to determine whether children with inflammatory bowel disease suffered more frequent side effects from the flu vaccine.

The researchers examined the medical records of all children under the age of 19 with inflammatory bowel disease in Ontario between 1999 and 2009.

The researchers looked at these children's outpatient visits, hospitalizations and emergency room visits for the period of time from two weeks to six months after they received a flu vaccine.

Then, the medical incidents in this period were compared to a different period of time that did not follow getting a flu vaccine.

The 4,916 children with inflammatory bowel disease were also compared to 21,686 children in Ontario who did not have inflammatory bowel disease.

The researchers found that kids with inflammatory bowel disease were actually twice as likely to have gotten the flu vaccine.

A quarter (25 percent) of kids with inflammatory bowel disease got the flu vaccine, compared to 13 percent of kids without the condition who got vaccinated.

The researchers did not find any higher rates of medical events, including hospitalizations and emergency visits, among the kids with inflammatory bowel disease after they got the flu vaccine.

In the two weeks immediately after the vaccine, children with inflammatory bowel disease were a little more likely to have some kind of medical event than children without the disease.

However, the rate of medical incidents that happened in children with inflammatory bowel disease were actually a little lower during the time period after the flu vaccine, compared to the period of time when the children had not had the flu vaccine.

"There was no increase in health services use in the post-vaccine risk period in inflammatory bowel disease patients, and there was evidence for a protective effect of influenza immunization against inflammatory bowel disease-related health services use," the researchers wrote.

"Influenza immunization is safe in children with inflammatory bowel disease and should be encouraged to improve poor coverage rates," they wrote.

The study was published May 6 in the journal Pediatrics. The research was funded internally. The authors are each individually funded by different non-industry grants, awards, universities and hospitals. No conflicts of interest were reported.

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Review Date: 
May 4, 2013
Last Updated:
November 13, 2013