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GAITHERSBURG, Md. -- MedImmune, Inc. announced today that FluMist (Influenza Virus Vaccine Live, Intranasal) has been included in the federal government's Vaccines for Children (VFC) program as an alternative to the injectable flu vaccine beginning in the 2005-2006 influenza season. As a result of this vote by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), healthy children ages five to 18 years who meet the eligibility requirements of the VFC program may receive FluMist at no cost next season.
"The addition of FluMist to the VFC program is an important step in ensuring that more children have access to the benefits of newly recommended vaccines," said Caroline York, vice president, government affairs and reimbursement, at MedImmune. "We are pleased to join in the nationwide endeavor to help keep children and families healthy during the influenza season."
For the 2004-2005 influenza season, CDC has encouraged the use of intranasally administered, live, attenuated influenza vaccine (FluMist), if available, for healthy, non-pregnant individuals ages 5 to 49 years, including healthcare workers (except those who care for severely immunocompromised patients in special care units) and individuals caring for children younger than six months.
About Vaccines for Children
In an effort to increase childhood immunization levels, the VFC program provides federally purchased vaccines to children who are enrolled in Medicaid, or who are uninsured, underinsured, American Indian or Alaskan Native. Many families in these groups cannot afford to pay for vaccines, which can lead to low immunization levels and disease outbreaks within communities.
"The VFC program is a vital source of vaccines for low-income children across the United States," said Stanley L. Block, Jr., MD, pediatrician at Kentucky Pediatric Research. "We experienced last year how severe influenza can be among even healthy children. Offering FluMist through this program as an alternative flu vaccine option for future seasons could help prevent major influenza-related illness and even save the lives of children who otherwise wouldn't have the opportunity to get immunized. A nasal vaccine is most appealing for many of our children."
As the CDC reported on June 18, 2004, a total of 152 children younger than 18 years of age died in the U.S. from influenza and its complications during the 2003-2004 flu season. Seventy-one percent of these children had no high-risk medical conditions, as defined by the CDC. These statistics are a reminder that, despite the traditional emphasis on high-risk groups, healthy children are also vulnerable to influenza each year and deaths can occur.
Source: MedImmune, Inc.