Thursday, March 6, 2008

CDC's Advisory Committee Recommends Influenza Vaccination for Children 6

A panel of immunization experts advised the Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention (CDC) today to expand the recommended ages for annual
influenza vaccination of children to include all children from only 6
months to 59 months of age. The expanded recommendation is to take
effect as soon as feasible, but no later than the 2009 - 2010 influenza

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted on the new
recommendation during its February 27-28, 2008 meeting in Atlanta. The
new recommendation increases the number of children recommended for
vaccination by approximately 30 million.

Studies have shown that healthy children bear a significant burden from
influenza disease and are at increased risk of needing influenza-related
medical care. In addition, there is evidence showing that reducing
influenza transmission among children has the potential to reduce
influenza among their household contacts and within the community.

"This new recommendation should reduce the risk of influenza infections
among children of all ages, and their consequent need for medical visits
and missed time from school," said Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of CDC's
National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.

Full implementation by Fall 2009 at the latest will allow time to plan
for the vaccination of this large group of children. However,
immunization providers should begin efforts to offer influenza
vaccination to all children aged 6 months through 18 years in the
2008-09 influenza season if feasible, consistent with the current
recommendation that all persons who want to reduce the risk of becoming
ill with influenza or of transmitting influenza to others should be

"This new recommendation will help parents understand that all children
can benefit from vaccination and further encourages providers to start
vaccination of children through age 18 next year," said Dr. Schuchat.

Results from a vaccine efficacy study among children 6 months to 23
months of age were presented at the meeting. The study findings
indicated vaccine efficacy of about 75 percent in preventing influenza
hospitalizations among fully vaccinated children in this age group
during the 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons. In contrast, the study found
that children who received only one dose of vaccine did not receive
statistically significant protection. This study underscores the
importance of existing ACIP recommendation that children younger than
nine years of age who will be receiving the influenza vaccine for the
first time need two doses.

The 2008-09 influenza vaccine for the United States will include three
new strains: an A/Brisbane/10/2007 (H3N2)-like virus, a
B/Florida/4/2006-like virus and A/Brisbane/59/2007 (H1N1)-like virus
strain. The H3N2 and B virus vaccine components in the U.S. vaccine are
included in the 2008 vaccine for the Southern Hemisphere. Influenza
vaccine manufacturers produced as many as 130 million doses of influenza
vaccine for the 2007-08 influenza season and have discussed expanding
current production capacity in the coming years.

Recommendations of the ACIP become recommendations of CDC once they are
accepted by the director of CDC and the Secretary of Health and Human
Services and are published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

For more information, visit

A broadcast quality podcast interview discussing the new recommendations
with Dr. Tony Fiore, CDC medical epidemiologist, is available at

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