CDC’s Advisory Committee Recommends Expanded Influenza Vaccinations for Children
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in its meeting in Atlanta today, voted to recommend an expansion of routine influenza vaccination for children. With the expansion, the recommended influenza vaccination age will be from 6 months to up to 5 years old. The previous recommendation was for children 6 months to 23 months old. The new recommendation expands that recommendation to also cover children from 2 years to up to 5 years old.
The committee also voted to recommend expanding routine vaccination for household contacts (anyone who spends a significant amount of time in the home) and out-of-home caregivers of children 24-59 months old. The previous recommendation had been for household contacts and caregivers for children 6 months to 23 months old.
This new recommendation takes into consideration a broader view of the burden of illness than the earlier recommendation for vaccination of children, which was based upon the prevention of hospitalization among children 6 months to 23 months old.
“This is an important recommendation to help reduce the overall burden of influenza among children,” said Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of CDC’s National Immunization Program. “Vaccination of children 24 to 59 months old will extend protection from influenza and its complications to all children in this age group, not just those identified as those with the highest risk of complications from influenza.”
Presenters at the meeting indicated that otherwise healthy children are at increased risk for requiring influenza-related medical care and that rates of medial outpatient visits for influenza-related illnesses are high in all childhood ages. It was also noted that children 24 months to 59 months old with influenza are nearly as likely to require visits to healthcare providers and emergency rooms as children 6 months to 23 months old. Approximately 5.3 million children and 11.4 million healthy household contacts or caregivers for these children will also be covered by the new recommendation Vaccination of all children who have certain chronic medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, kidney disease or weakened immune systems continues to be strongly recommended by ACIP. Children younger than nine years who will be receiving the influenza vaccine for the first time should receive two doses.
The ACIP will continue to review new vaccination strategies for improving the prevention and control of influenza, including the possibility of expanding routine influenza vaccination recommendations to the entire U. S. population. Influenza vaccine manufacturers have indicated that they plan to produce between 100 million and 120 million doses of influenza vaccine for the 2006-07 influenza season.
The 2006-07 influenza vaccine will include two new strains, an A/Wisconsin/67/2005 (H3N2)-like virus and a B/Malaysia/2506/2004-like virus; the A/New Caledonia/20/99(H1N1)-like virus strain from the 2005-2006 season will remain in the upcoming vaccine.
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 www.cdc.gov.