The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state that, among children of all ages, those under 6 months of age are at the greatest risk of being hospitalized from flu.  Because flu vaccination is only approved from the age of 6 months, it is recommended that expectant mothers receive a flu shot in order to protect themselves and their newborn children from flu-related complications.  But according to study co-author Marta C. Nunes, Ph.D., of the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, and colleagues, exactly how long maternal flu vaccination protects an infant after birth has been unclear.  With a view to finding out, the team analyzed data of more than 2,000 infants born to mothers who took part in a randomized clinical trial assessing the efficacy of maternal flu vaccination.  A total of 1,026 infants were born to mothers who received the trivalent inactivated influenza vaccine (IIV3) during pregnancy, while 1,023 infants were born to mothers who received a placebo.  As part of the trial, blood samples of the infants were taken 7 days, 8 weeks, 16 weeks, and 24 weeks after birth. These were assessed for the presence of hemagglutination inhibition (HAI) antibodies – an indicator of protection against flu, with high levels signaling higher protection.

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