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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today said that the supply of vaccine for this flu season is good and it is time to broaden vaccinations beyond the high-risk groups. The CDC advised that flu shot providers who have sufficient supplies of vaccine should broaden their vaccination efforts to include other people, especially 50-to-64 year olds, who are interested in getting an influenza vaccination.
The CDC had recommended that until Oct. 24, healthcare providers focus their vaccination efforts on people who are at highest risk of serious complications from influenza. These include people 65 years old and older, health care workers who provide patient care, pregnant women, 6 to 23-month old children, and people with chronic health conditions (e.g., diabetes, asthma, and heart conditions).
"It is always a priority for us to want to reach people who are at the highest risk of complications from influenza and get them vaccinated," said CDC Director Julie Gerberding, MD, MPH. "Those efforts should continue, but we also recognize that many health care providers have enough vaccine to expand their efforts, and overall, more vaccine is becoming available weekly."
So far eight states are reporting very mild influenza activity. This level of activity is typical for this time of year. Influenza peeks most often in January and February so the coming weeks on into December afford excellent opportunities for vaccination.
Gerberding noted that not all healthcare providers have received their influenza vaccine, but are expecting to be receiving it in the coming weeks. These localized shortages are the result of distribution anomalies that are expected to be resolved soon.
"In those situations, we ask people to check with their doctor first to make sure they have a supply," said Gerberding. "We're early into the time when people should get flu vaccinations and many doctors will be receiving vaccine shortly. Millions of more doses of vaccine are on the way, and November and December are also fine when it comes to getting your flu vaccination."