An advisory panel to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended that every person be vaccinated for the seasonal flu yearly, except in a few cases where the vaccine is known to be unsafe.
“Now no one should say ‘Should I or shouldn’t I?’” said CDC flu specialist Anthony Fiore.
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted 11-0 with one abstention to recommend yearly flu vaccination for everyone except for children under the age of six months, whose immune systems have not yet developed enough for vaccination to be safe, and people with egg allergies or other health conditions that are known to make flu vaccines hazardous. If accepted by the CDC, this recommendation will then be publicized to doctors and other health workers.
The CDC nearly always accepts the advisory committee’s recommendations.
Current CDC recommendations call for the yearly vaccination of all children over the age of six months, all adults over the age of 49, health care workers, people with chronic health problems and anyone who cares for a person in one of these groups. These recommendations cover 85 percent of the US population.
Excluded are adults between the ages of 19 and 49 who do not come into close contact with people in high-risk groups. The new recommendation, if adopted, would close that gap, bringing an end to a 10-year campaign by supporters of universal vaccination. In the past, the advisory committee has been reluctant to recommend universal vaccination for fear that it might produce vaccine shortages that place members of higher risk groups in danger. Yet even with current recommendations, only 33 percent of the public gets vaccinated every year, leaving millions of doses to be disposed of.
The H1N1 swine flu scare of the past year played a major role in the committee’s about face, both because the disease killed many people falling outside the current recommended vaccine demographic and because it raised public awareness of and demand for vaccines.