Flu shots advised for kids 6 months to age 5
By Anita Manning, USA TODAY
ATLANTA — A federal advisory panel voted unanimously Wednesday to recommend that all children 6 months to 5 years old receive flu shots every year.
A federal advisory panel voted unanimously Wednesday to recommend that all children 6 months to 5 years old receive flu shots every year.
The vote by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, which advises the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on vaccine policy, probably will spur more visits to pediatrician offices and is a small step toward a recommendation that everyone get the flu shot. Even so, it didn't go far enough for some members of the advisory committee.
Gregory Poland of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., urged the panel to move closer toward advising universal flu vaccination. That would mean an annual vaccine for everyone in the USA rather than a slow expansion of the categories of people for whom the vaccine is recommended, a process he called "creeping incrementalism."
"I recognize we have supply limitations, but I think we should be bold," Poland said. "We make a recommendation that every kid wear a bicycle helmet, and there are not enough bicycle helmets."
A recommendation for universal vaccination would stimulate production and improve preparations for a pandemic, he said.
Other committee members advised caution.
"In the long term, I'm in favor of it," said Dale Morse of the New York State Department of Health. "But if we go too fast ahead of the vaccine supply, there will be chaos."
The committee agreed to discuss universal immunization at its next meeting in June.
The new recommendation affects 5.3 million healthy children in the 2- to 5-year-old age group. Flu vaccine already is recommended for all children older than 6 months who have medical conditions such as asthma.
But less than 40% of those children are immunized regularly, said Carol Baker, president-elect of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases. "Kids with asthma are not being immunized now."
The new recommendation for vaccinating ages 2 to 5 means that "at least this group would be immunized along with the others."
The CDC expects at least 100 million doses of flu vaccine to be produced for the 2006-07 flu season, the most ever, CDC Director Julie Gerberding said.
But she said fewer than half of the 185 million people for whom flu vaccine is recommended actually are immunized, and every year manufacturers have to destroy unused vaccine.
"Ideally, we'd have concordance between the need, the supply and the demand," Gerberding said.
Why? Government health care officials are ignorant, why on earth would anyone want to add another vaccine to the cocktail of vaccines already prescribed to children? Especially when this flu shot tends to be in a mercury preservative??
It's also interesting to me, that by simply washing your hands regularly and eating a healthy Diet you can cut your risk of contracting the flu in half!