Background: Influenzavirus vaccine is used infrequently in healthy children, even though the rates of influenza in this group are high. We conducted a multicenter, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of a live attenuated, cold-adapted, trivalent influenzavirus vaccine in children 15 to 71 months old.
Methods: Two hundred eighty-eight children were assigned to receive one dose of vaccine or placebo given by intranasal spray, and 1314 were assigned to receive two doses approximately 60 days apart. The strains included in the vaccine were antigenically equivalent to those in the inactivated influenzavirus vaccine in use at the time. The subjects were monitored with viral cultures for influenza during the subsequent influenza season. A case of influenza was defined as an illness associated with the isolation of wild-type influenzavirus from respiratory secretions.
Results: The intranasal vaccine was accepted and well tolerated. Among children who were initially seronegative, antibody titers increased by a factor of four in 61 to 96 percent, depending on the influenza strain. Culture-positive influenza was significantly less common in the vaccine group (14 cases among 1070 subjects) than the placebo group (95 cases among 532 subjects). The vaccine efficacy was 93 percent (95 percent confidence interval, 88 to 96 percent) against culture-confirmed influenza. Both the one-dose regimen (89 percent efficacy) and the two-dose regimen (94 percent efficacy) were efficacious, and the vaccine was efficacious against both strains of influenza circulating in 1996-1997, A(H3N2) and B. The vaccinated children had significantly fewer febrile illnesses, including 30 percent fewer episodes of febrile otitis media (95 percent confidence interval, 18 to 45 percent; P<0.001).
Conclusions: A live attenuated, cold-adapted influenzavirus vaccine was safe, immunogenic, and effective against influenza A(H3N2) and B in healthy children.