CDC updates flu shot recommendations. Dr H blogs about it at

by James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H.

Thanks to the Basil and Spice staff for allowing me to blog on their website yesterday. I wrote on the new recommendations by the CDC this year to give influenza immunizations to ages 6 months to 18 years old. The change is adding the 5- to 18-year-old group. I won’t repeat the post here, but a commenter posed an interesting question, “Why now?”

I’m not exactly sure. In a long report with recommedations from their advisory committee , I glean three reasons.

  1. They feel there is enough evidence to conclude it is effective and safe in this age group.
  2. The substantial impact the flu causes on absenteeism, for child and parent, along with doctor visit costs, antibiotics for secondary infection.
  3. To make the recommendations simpler since about 50 percent of school-age children are already on the list due to chronic illness or close contact someone with a chronic illness.

Below is a list of who especially needs the flu shot to decrease the risk of serious complications (same recommendations as last year).

  • all children 6 months to 4 years (59 months)
  • everyone 50 and over
  • children and adolescents (6 months to 18 years) who are receiving long-term aspirin therapy and who might be at risk for experiencing Reye’s syndrome after influenza virus infection
  • women who will be pregnant during the flu season
  • adults and children who have chronic pulmonary (including asthma), cardiovascular (except hypertension), renal, hepatic, hematological, or metabolic disorders (including diabetes mellitus)
  • adults and children who have immunosuppression (including immunosuppression caused by medications or by HIV)
  • adults and children who have any condition (e.g., cognitive dysfunction, spinal cord injuries, seizure disorders, or other neuromuscular disorders) that can compromise respiratory function or the handling of respiratory secretions or that can increase the risk for aspiration; and
  • residents of nursing homes and other chronic-care facilities

People in close contact with the above also need vaccinated.

So do you follow the new recommendations for healthy kids aged 5 to 18? That’s a personal decision, but you should think of it now since it it flu shot season. Read the info., weigh the benefits (some children do actually die of the flu each year–rare) versus the risks (allergic reaction, side effects–also rare, too many immunizations).

What do you think of the new recommendations? What will be your course of action?

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2 Responses to “CDC updates flu shot recommendations. Dr H blogs about it at”

  1. Dan Says:

    Historical Facts About Influenza:

    The last influenza pandemic occurred nearly 100 years ago, and resulted in about 50 million deaths worldwide. Those who survived have allowed others to obtain antibodies from them to develop other antibodies for future viral outbreaks that may occur. This last influenza pandemic also allowed others to obtain this virus from those who died as a result to facilitate effective treatments and vaccines for viral outbreaks that may happen in the future as well.
    With influenza, it is understood that the disease influenza is a disease caused by a RNA virus that can infect both mammals and birds. In fact, this particular virus can mutate to where it can be shared between the two life forms and multiply within each one of them. Unlike coryza, influenza expresses symptoms more severely, and usually lasts two weeks until one recovers who has the flu. Influenza, however, poses a danger to some with compromised immune systems, such as the chronically ill. In cases such as this, influenza can in fact progress to deadly pneumonia. Symptoms of influenza usually start to express themselves symptomatically 36 hours after being infected with the virus. Over 10 percent of the population are infected with this virus every year- resulting in about 200,000 hospitalizations and nearly 40,000 deaths.

    The flu vaccination contains three viral strains of suspected viruses for flu outbreaks during a particular winter season, as determined by the World Health Organization, as well as the Centers for Disease Control, and other organizations. Unfortunately, the influenza vaccine administered last flu season was largely ineffective due to unsuspected strains of the virus infecting others, although about 140 million doses of this vaccine were administered. After giving the vaccination dose to one, it takes about 10 days for that person to build up an immunity for the disease of influenza.
    The influenza season peaks between the months of January and March. The vaccine for this influenza season is manufactured by 6 different companies. Yet the strains chosen are speculated influenza viruses, as this does not eliminate the chance of a new and dominant influenza viral strain that possibly could cause a pandemic. It takes manufacturers about 6 months to make and formulate the influenza vaccination. There is a vaccine for this illness that is produced every year according to which type of virus may be prevalent during a particular flu season. The vaccination is recommended to be administered to those who are at high risk, such as the chronically ill. Also, it is recommended that those under 18 years of age get the vaccine, as well as those people over the age of 50. Furthermore, those people who regularly take aspirin should receive the vaccine, as the influenza disease can become a catalyst for Reye’s Syndrome. Pregnant women should receive the vaccine as well- as there are many other vaccines available to fortunately prevent other diseases, perhaps.

    Dan Abshear

  2. James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H. Says:

    Thanks Dan. Each year the flu vaccine is just an educated guessing game. However, I am a big advocate. One reason is I have not had the flu since I started taking the vaccine in 1977. I started after getting a bad case in medical school.

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