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ATLANTA A panel of immunization experts reporting to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday voted to expand the recommendation for annual influenza vaccination to include all people ages 6 months and older, a marked change from recommendations in the past that identified high-priority groups by age and condition, groups that apply to approximately 85% of the population.
The expanded recommendation is to take effect in the 2010/2011 influenza season. The new recommendation seeks to remove barriers to influenza immunization and signals the importance of preventing influenza across the entire population, the agency stated.
Discussion at the ACIP meeting focused on the value of protecting all people 19 to 49 years of age, who have been hard hit by the 2009 H1N1 pandemic virus, which is likely to continue circulating into next season and beyond. Another reason cited in favor of a universal recommendation for vaccination is that many people in currently recommended “higher risk” groups are unaware of their risk factor or that they are recommended for vaccination.
Finally, new data collected over the course of the 2009 H1N1 pandemic indicates that some people who do not currently have a specific recommendation for vaccination also may be at higher risk of serious flu-related complications, including those people who are obese, post-partum women and people in certain racial/ethnic groups.
More influenza vaccine doses will be required to vaccinate all adults. However, based on current projections, more licensed types and brands of seasonal influenza vaccines will be available in the 2010-11 influenza season than has ever been available before.
Historically, uptake of seasonal influenza vaccine has been less than half of the number of persons with a specific recommendation for vaccination.