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BETHESDA, Md. -- New pediatric influenza vaccination recommendations published today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) call for annual influenza vaccination for all infants and toddlers 6 through 23 months of age as well as household contacts and out-of-home caregivers of children between birth and 2 years.
The new recommendations, published in the April 30, 2004 issue of CDC's Morbidity &
Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), agree with recommendations issued by the
American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Academy of Family
"Influenza is a highly contagious, easily transmitted disease and these
new recommendations will help prevent hospitalizations and even death among
infants and children 6 through 23 months of age as well as those who have
underlying medical conditions, such as asthma," says Margaret Rennels, MD,
professor of pediatrics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and
chair of AAP's Committee on Infectious Diseases. "These children's household
contacts and out-of-home caregivers are also recommended to receive an annual
influenza vaccination. This includes siblings, grandparents and babysitters."
Recent studies show influenza-associated illness in children younger than
24 months of age leads to hospitalization rates similar to those among adults
65 years of age and older. During the 2003-2004 influenza season, CDC
reported more than 140 influenza-related deaths among children.
Influenza and pneumonia are among the top ten leading causes of death for
children ages one to four years. It puts children at significant risk for
hospitalizations due to pneumonia, fever, seizures and encephalitis. In addition, influenza increases the risk of a child developing otitis media, croup and sepsis.
Despite long-standing recommendations to provide influenza vaccine to all
children with an underlying medical condition, vaccination rates of high-risk
children remain low. For children with asthma, the most prevalent high-risk
condition, influenza vaccination rates are only 10 percent to 31 percent in any given
year -- the lowest immunization rate for any childhood vaccine. A new CDC
report estimates nine million U.S. children under age 18 have been diagnosed
with asthma at some point in their lives. A number of studies demonstrate
physicians do not yet employ effective strategies to improve influenza
"With these new recommendations, physicians and parents are encouraged to
prepare early for the upcoming influenza season rather than wait for the late
summer or fall," said William Schaffner, MD, professor and chairman of the
department of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine
and an NFID board member. "Health care providers are encouraged to order
vaccine now and plan pediatric influenza immunization programs to ensure their
practices are able to administer vaccine to patients and their direct
contacts. Parents should also contact their health care providers for more
information about immunizing their children against influenza."
Influenza Vaccination Recommendations
Beginning fall 2004, all children aged 6 through 23 months, as well as
household contacts and out-of-home caregivers for all children younger than 24
months of age, are recommended to receive an annual influenza vaccine.
Children under 9 years of age receiving flu vaccine for the first time will
need two doses, one month apart.
In addition to children 6 to 23 months of age, an annual influenza
vaccination continues to be strongly recommended for those children 6 months
of age and older who have the following underlying medical conditions:
* Asthma, cystic fibrosis or other lung disorders
* Heart, kidney or liver disease
* Blood disorders, like sickle cell disease
* Immune suppression, such as HIV or AIDS
* Conditions requiring long-term aspirin therapy, immunosuppressive drugs
NFID has national initiatives underway to help pediatricians and family
practitioners develop in-practice immunization programs and prepare for the
expansion of CDC's pediatric influenza vaccination recommendations. Last year
NFID issued a report, "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, NFID will soon unveil a new pediatric influenza vaccine
resource program, Kids Need Flu Vaccine, Too, to help physicians and healthcare providers integrate routine pediatric influenza vaccination into their
practices. The new program includes practice resources for planning and
implementing in-practice pediatric flu clinics, educational videos for health
care professionals and parents as well as educational materials for parents.
For more information about influenza, refer to the CDC and AAP Web sites
at www.cdc.gov and www.aap.org. To learn more about NFID's efforts to improve
pediatric immunization rates, visit the NFID Web site at www.nfid.org. This
pediatric influenza immunization initiative was made possible through an
unrestricted educational grant to NFID from Aventis Pasteur.
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