BETHESDA, Md. -- The National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) strongly supports new recommendations issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) that call for all healthy infants and children 6 to 24 months of age to be immunized against influenza.
The new policy also stresses annual influenza immunization of children of all ages
with certain chronic medical conditions as well as household contacts,
out-of-home caregivers and health care professionals in contact with all
children younger than 24 months of age.
The new AAP recommendations strengthen earlier vaccine policy from an
encouragement to the level of a full immunization recommendation. The policy
reinforces the message to pediatricians, family practitioners and parents
about the importance of annual influenza protection for all healthy children 6
to 24 months of age and their contacts, as well as for all children 6 months
of age and older with high-risk medical conditions, such as asthma and
"The National Foundation for Infectious Diseases strongly supports AAP's
newly issued pediatric influenza recommendations," said William Schaffner, MD,
professor and chairman of the department of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt
University School of Medicine and an NFID board member. "NFID is committed to
educational outreach efforts in support of AAP's recommendation that will help
increase awareness about the importance of influenza immunization among
infants and children and increase vaccination rates."
AAP's new policy cites studies that show children of all ages with certain
chronic medical conditions as well as otherwise healthy children younger than
24 months of age are hospitalized for influenza infection and its
complications at high rates -- similar to those experienced by the elderly.
AAP's policy "recommends influenza immunization for healthy children between 6
to 24 months of age, for household contacts and out-of-home caregivers of all
children younger than 24 months of age and for healthcare professionals. To
protect these children more fully against the complications of influenza,
increased efforts are needed to identify all high-risk children and inform
their parents when immunization is due."
Influenza puts children 6 to 24 months of age at significant risk for
hospitalizations due to pneumonia, respiratory conditions, heart failure and
myocarditis. Influenza illness also increases the risk of a child developing otitis media, pneumonia, croup and sepsis, and is a risk factor for the complication of bacterial superinfection.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 120
influenza-related deaths occurred among children aged less than 18 years
during the 2003-2004 influenza season.
In an effort to increase pediatric influenza vaccination rates, NFID has
initiatives underway to help ensure infants and children receive the vaccine.
Last year, NFID issued a report, entitled Increasing Influenza Immunization
Rates in Infants and Children: Putting Recommendations Into Practice, which
details strategies to help pediatric and family practices set up successful
flu vaccination programs. Those strategies form the centerpiece of a national
NFID campaign to improve pediatric immunization rates in private practice,
managed care and public health settings. In addition, new practice resources
will soon become available to health care providers on how to implement
pediatric influenza vaccination clinics.
The official AAP policy statement can be accessed on the AAP Web site:
Full text of the NFID report on pediatric influenza is available on the
NFID Web site at http://www.nfid.org.
Founded in 1973, NFID is a non-profit organization dedicated to public and
professional educational programs about, and in support of, research into
causes, treatment, and prevention of infectious diseases.
Source: National Foundation for Infectious Diseases