The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice has greatly expanded the population of people it's recommending for an annual flu shot. The group is urging parents to make sure everyone aged six months to 18 has an annual jab, well beyond the six month to five-year time frame that has applied. The recommendation adds a population of 30 million young people to the list of people who should get a vaccination.
For the vaccine industry, the recommendation is likely to significantly boost demand for the annual flu shot. The industry distributed 132 million doses for the current flu season, though most were ineffective against the varieties of flu in circulation in many states. The flu has been widespread this year, affecting most of the country.
The advisory group hopes that by expanding the number of young people who get a flu shot, they can reduce the massive amount of time parents and children spend at the doctor's office and reduce the amount of antibiotics that are used to control complications from the flu.
"I think it's a great idea because we know that young children are often the first to introduce influenza into a community," says Dr. Anita Barry, director of communicable disease control for the Boston Public Health Commission.
ALSO: Presented with evidence that a combination vaccine made by Merck was linked to a higher rate of fever-related convulsions, the advisory panel also withdrew its preference for the combined therapy over two separate shots. Report