Flu vaccine recommended for all kids, teens

This will add 30 million people to the list of those who should get vaccinated. Also, flu virus strains were selected for the upcoming season.

By Victoria Stagg Elliott — Posted March 17, 2008

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In an attempt to reduce influenza among children and adolescents -- and the adults with whom they come in contact -- the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, at a February meeting, endorsed influenza vaccination for all younger than 18.

Because of increasingly stable supplies and more science showing the vaccine's benefit, ACIP has been slowly expanding the number of people recommended to receive it. This recent recommendation adds 30 million to the list.

Previously for this age group, children 6 to 59 months old were to receive the vaccine, along with those ages 5 to 18 years who are at high risk for complications. Public health officials want the new recommendation implemented as soon as possible and done so fully no later than the 2009-10 season.

"This new recommendation should reduce the risk of influenza infections among children of all ages," said Anne Schuchat, MD, director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

The Food and Drug Administration also chose the strains to be included in the vaccine for the 2008-09 season. The A strains will be Brisbane/59/2007-like (H1N1) and Brisbane/10/2007-like (H3N2) viruses. The B strain will be the Florida/4/2006-like virus.

Experts have expressed concern because none of these were included in last season's vaccine, and anxiety is emerging that manufacturers' lack of experience with these strains may lead to disruptions. Public health officials are optimistic, though, because two of the three already have been included in the vaccine for the Southern Hemisphere, which has been manufactured for the past six months.

"[Manufacturers] are not starting with a totally clean slate," said Nancy Cox, MD, director of the CDC's influenza division.

Medical societies and public health agencies have long worked to stabilize vaccine supplies. The National Influenza Vaccine Summit, sponsored by the American Medical Association and the CDC, meets in Atlanta May 12-13.

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External links

Prevent Influenza Now! Sponsored by the National Influenza Vaccine Summit, which is organized by the American Medical Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (link)

Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (link)

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