Safety of cold-adapted live attenuated influenza vaccine in a large cohort of children and adolescents

Pediatr Infect Dis J. 2004 Feb;23(2):138-44. doi: 10.1097/01.inf.0000109392.96411.4f.


Objective: To determine the safety of cold-adapted trivalent intranasal influenza virus vaccine (CAIV) in children and adolescents.

Study design: A randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled safety trial in healthy children age 12 months to 17 years given CAIV (FluMist; MedImmune Vaccines, Inc.) or placebo (randomization, 2:1). Children <9 years of age received a second dose of CAIV or placebo 28 to 42 days after the first dose. Enrolled children were then followed for 42 days after each vaccination for all medically attended events. Prespecified outcomes included 4 prespecified diagnostic groups and 170 observed individual diagnostic categories. The relative risk and the 2-sided 90% confidence interval were calculated for each diagnostic group and individual category by clinical setting, dose and age. More than 1500 relative risk analyses were performed.

Results: A total of 9689 evaluable children were enrolled in the study. Of the 4 prespecified diagnostic categories (acute respiratory tract events, systemic bacterial infection, acute gastrointestinal tract events and rare events potentially associated with wild-type influenza), none was associated with vaccine. Of the biologically plausible individual diagnostic categories, 3, acute gastrointestinal events, acute respiratory events and abdominal pain, had different analyses that demonstrated increased and decreased relative risks, making their association with the vaccine unlikely. For reactive airway disease a significant increased relative risk was observed in children 18 to 35 months of age with a relative risk of 4.06 (90% confidence interval, 1.29 to 17.86) in this age group. The individual diagnostic categories of upper respiratory infection, musculoskeletal pain, otitis media with effusion and adenitis/adenopathy had at least one analysis that achieved a significant increased risk ratio. All of these events were infrequent.

Conclusion: CAIV was generally safe in children and adolescents. The observation of an increased risk of asthma/reactive airway disease in children <36 months of age is of potential concern. Further studies are planned to evaluate the risk of asthma/reactive airway disease after vaccine.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Antibodies, Viral / analysis
  • California
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Cryopreservation
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunity / physiology*
  • Infant
  • Influenza Vaccines / administration & dosage*
  • Influenza, Human / immunology
  • Influenza, Human / prevention & control*
  • Male
  • Probability
  • Risk Assessment
  • Safety
  • Sex Factors
  • Vaccination / methods*
  • Vaccines, Attenuated / administration & dosage


  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Influenza Vaccines
  • Vaccines, Attenuated