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CDC Panel Calls for Flu Vaccine for All

Experts Recommend Yearly Flu Vaccine for All Americans, Not Just Those at High Risk

By Daniel J. DeNoon
WebMD Health News

Reviewed By Louise Chang, MD

Feb. 24, 2010 -- Everybody, not just those at risk of complications, should get a yearly flu shot, the CDC's immunization advisory panel says.

The CDC almost certainly will make universal flu vaccination official U.S. policy for this fall's 2010-2011 flu season, as it consistently follows the advice of the panel of outside experts, called the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP).

Now flu vaccination will be advised even for healthy adults ages 19 to 49 who do not come into contact with infants or elderly people, who are at highest risk of flu complications.

That's only 15% of the U.S. population. But the ACIP say the effect of the universal recommendation will affect far more people. That's because a lot of people for whom the flu vaccine already is recommended don't think of themselves as being at high risk.

Moreover, the universal recommendation simplifies the extremely complicated current recommendations that create confusion about who should and should not be vaccinated. And it makes it likely that insurers will cover flu shots for all healthy adults.

ACIP members also said that the universal recommendation would assure Americans that the nation's public health experts are fully confident in the safety and effectiveness of the flu vaccine -- particularly the H1N1 swine flu vaccine.

The 2010-2011 seasonal flu vaccine will include the H1N1 swine flu vaccine, as the pandemic virus appears to have replaced the seasonal H1N1 virus covered by previous vaccines. The new seasonal vaccine will also include protection against the predominant "Perth" H3N2 type A and "Brisbane" type B flus.

SOURCES: CDC, meeting of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, Feb. 24, 2010.

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