CDC panel endorses rotavirus vaccine
■ The committee also expanded flu shot recommendations and is considering whether influenza vaccination should be offered to all.
By Victoria Stagg Elliott — Posted March 13, 2006
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted in February to recommend that all infants receive the rotavirus vaccine and that all toddlers and their caregivers receive the flu vaccine annually.
According to the committee, the rotavirus vaccine should be administered at 2, 4 and 6 months old, with the first dose occurring before 3 months. The last dose should take place no later than at 8 months.
Data were insufficient to determine safety and efficacy at older ages.
Rotavirus is responsible for 400,000 doctor visits and more than 55,000 hospitalizations annually.
"This vaccine will help reduce one of our most common and potentially severe childhood illnesses," said Anne Schuchat, MD, director of the CDC's National Immunization Program.
The vaccine, which was approved by the Food and Drug Administration last month, has demonstrated that it protects against gastroenteritis without the rare adverse event of intussusception associated with an earlier vaccine withdrawn in 1999, although the CDC and FDA will continue to monitor for that possibility.
The committee also voted in favor of expanding influenza vaccine recommendations to include children 6 months to 5 years old and those adults who take care of them either inside or outside of the home. Previously, this shot had been recommended for all infants ages 6 months to 23 months.
The ACIP is also considering opening up influenza recommendations to include everyone, particularly in light of the fact that there may be sufficient supplies this coming season. Between 100 million and 120 million doses are expected.
In a related action, the FDA announced that the 2006-07 season's flu vaccine will include two new strains. The A/Wisconsin/67/2005 (H3N2)-like virus and B/Malaysia/2506/2004-like virus will join the A/New Caledonia/20/99 (H1N1)-like virus, which was included in last year's mix.