CDC: Flu vaccine is out and it’s for almost everyone

It’s time for your influenza vaccine. This week I’ll be sharing a number of blogs on the flu vaccine, especially for healthcare professionals, children, and pregnant women. Today we’ll start with an overview of this year’s recommendations. Although the influenza strains included in the upcoming season’s flu vaccine are unchanged from last season, the CDC is still recommending that EVERYONE older than 6 months get vaccinated this year.

This season’s vaccines, which have already begun to ship, protect against the pandemic H1N1 virus, as well as an H3N2 and a B strain, the same as last season, according to new recommendations from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) published in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Even so, because studies have shown that protection can wane in the year after receiving the vaccine, everybody who is eligible should be vaccinated again this season, said Carolyn Bridges, MD, of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Disease, on a conference call with reporters.

Here are more details from a report in MedPage Today:

One group of individuals who might not need as much vaccine as in years past are children younger than 9. Normally, these children would need two doses to provide sufficient protection against the flu. But because the strains are the same as last season, any children who received at least one dose of vaccine last season only need to get one for the upcoming season, according to the recommendations.

Although the guidance is largely similar to that from previous seasons, additional updates include the availability of the intradermal formulation of Fluzone – which was approved by the FDA in May – and new recommendations regarding vaccination in individuals with egg allergy – which were discussed at one of ACIP’s meetings in June.

Included in the recommendations for vaccination in the presence of egg allergy:

  • Those with a history of hives only after exposure to egg can receive influenza vaccine, but should receive the trivalent inactivated vaccine (TIV) rather than the live attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV), should be vaccinated by a healthcare provider who is familiar with potential manifestations of egg allergy, and should be observed for at least 30 minutes following administration.
  • People who have had more severe allergic reactions to egg should be referred to a physician with expertise in the management of allergies for further risk assessment.
  • The vaccine should be administered in settings equipped for the rapid recognition and treatment of anaphylaxis.
  • The authors noted that a previous severe allergic reaction to influenza vaccine, regardless of the component causing the reaction, is a contraindication to getting the vaccine.

Although the CDC recommends that everyone get an influenza vaccine every year – barring a contraindication – certain groups have been identified as high priorities for vaccination – particularly healthcare personnel and pregnant women.

The primary source for this blog is the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report: “Prevention and control of influenza with vaccines: recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), 2011” MMWR 2011; 60.

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