Updated immunization recommendations for childhood influenza vaccinations are included in the 2009 Childhood and Adolescent Immunization Schedules released jointly today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP).
The 2009 schedule calls for routine annual influenza vaccination for children aged 6 months through 18 years. The previous recommendation was for vaccination of children from 6 months to 59 months of age. The recommendation increases the number of children recommended for vaccination by approximately 30 million.
"Vaccination is the best protection against influenza," said Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Disease. "This important update to the childhood immunization schedule helps us extend protection from influenza and its complications to all children between the ages of 6 months and 18 years, not just those at highest risk of complications from influenza."
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), the committee that advises the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on vaccine issues, originally voted during its Feb. 27, 2008 meeting to recommend influenza vaccination for children through age 18. The ACIP recommended healthcare providers vaccinate their child patients if they were able to provide the vaccine during the 2008 influenza season. Many providers were able to give the vaccine during the 2008-09 season because of a plentiful supply of vaccine. However, full implementation of the recommendation will not take effect until fall 2009, allowing time for providers to plan for vaccination of this large group of children.
Other changes to the childhood and adolescent schedule include a recommendation that children younger than 9 years of age who are receiving influenza vaccine for the first time, or who were vaccinated for the first time during the previous season but only received one dose, should receive two doses of influenza vaccine at least four weeks apart.
Recommendations for rotavirus, a disease that causes diarrhea in young children, vaccines include changes for the maximum ages for rotavirus vaccination. The first dose should be given by 15 weeks of age. The latest age any dose may be given is 15 months. If the vaccine Rotarix is administered at ages 2 and 4 months, a dose at 6 months is not needed.
Catch-up vaccination with human papillomavirus, the leading cause of cervical cancer in women, known as HPV, vaccine is clarified. Routine dosing intervals should be used for series catch-up (i.e., the second and third doses should be administered 2 and 6 months after the first dose). The third dose should be given at least 24 weeks after the first dose.
The full immunization schedule is available at www.cdc.gov/vaccines.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services