New CDC Influenza Recommendation Urges Vaccination for All Groups in October

SWIFTWATER, Pa. -- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an updated recommendation for influenza vaccination this season urging all persons-healthy and high-risk-to seek influenza vaccination in October. The updated recommendation published in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) suspends the tiered influenza vaccination schedule for the 2003-04 season because influenza vaccine supply is adequate. As a result, anyone wishing to be protected against influenza this season can begin seeking vaccination in October.

Aventis began to ship its influenza vaccine (Fluzone Influenza Virus Vaccine) to customers on July 28 -- one month ahead of the company's previously announced delivery schedule. The company continues to accept orders for Fluzone Influenza Virus Vaccine and Fluzone Preservative-free: Pediatric Dose, Influenza Virus Vaccine. Health care providers can order influenza vaccine via the company's Web site at www.vaccineshoppe.com or by calling 1-800-VACCINE.

Aventis Pasteur, the vaccines business of Aventis, is the nation's largest supplier of influenza vaccine. "The supply of influenza vaccine makes it possible for the CDC to drop the tiered immunization schedule this season and will allow everyone to begin to seek influenza vaccination in October," said Phil Hosbach, vice president, new products and immunization policy at Aventis Pasteur. "We encourage healthcare providers to order vaccine as soon as possible in order to be prepared to start immunizing all patients in October and throughout the rest of the year."

In recent years, the CDC instituted a tiered immunization schedule, prioritizing vaccine in October for groups at greatest risk for complications of influenza to maximize use of the nation's available supply. At that time, all other persons were asked to seek vaccination in November, December and beyond as more vaccine became available. In June, however, the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted to annually reassess the influenza vaccine supply to determine whether adequate vaccine would be available early in the season to eliminate the tiered system for that season. With the adequate supply of influenza vaccine available to the nation, the CDC has opened influenza vaccination to all groups in October by suspending the tiered immunization schedule this season.

"Due to a strong production year, the company was able to begin shipping product to customers ahead of schedule this season," says Hosbach. "We plan to continue to ship vaccine to customers as soon as it becomes available."

Groups considered at risk for developing serious influenza-related complications include the elderly, adults and children with chronic diseases, such as asthma and diabetes; and pregnant women who will be in their second or third trimester of pregnancy during the influenza season. Influenza vaccination is also strongly recommended for those 50 to 64 years of age, household contacts of at-risk individuals and healthcare workers who care for at-risk patients.

All other healthy individuals under age 50 and anyone who wishes to decrease their risk of influenza infection are also encouraged to seek vaccination.

Vaccination is now encouraged for healthy children aged 6 to 23 months. These children have been found to be at increased risk for influenza-related hospitalizations. Fluzone Influenza Virus Vaccine is the only influenza vaccine that is indicated for children below 4 years of age. Children younger than 9 years of age receiving influenza vaccine for the first time require two doses, one month apart.

The most common side effect from influenza vaccine is soreness at the vaccination site that can last up to two days. Some people may have mild fever or feel tired for a day or two after receiving the influenza vaccine.

Influenza vaccine is made from killed strains of the viruses predicted to be the main causes of influenza in the coming season. Because the viruses are killed, it is impossible to get influenza from the injectable vaccine.

The only people who should not receive influenza vaccine are those who have had previous reactions to the vaccine or people who are allergic to eggs (the viruses used in the vaccine are grown in eggs) or egg products. Persons with acute febrile illness usually should not be vaccinated until their symptoms have abated. However, minor illnesses with or without fever do not contraindicate the use of influenza vaccine, particularly among children with mild upper respiratory tract infection or allergic rhinitis.

Source: Aventis Pasteur, Inc.

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