Experts Consider Recommending Flu Vaccines to All U.S. Residents
Vaccine experts are considering recommending that all U.S. residents receive an annual flu vaccination in an effort to reduce the number of illnesses and deaths from the flu each year, USA Today reports. The federal government currently recommends that high-risk individuals -- including infants ages six months to 23 months, adults over age 50 and those with chronic illnesses -- and those who live with them be vaccinated against the flu each year.
However, research increasingly is showing that if more U.S. residents were vaccinated, the entire population would have greater protection, according to Walter Orenstein, director of Emory University's Program for Vaccine Policy and Development. "The general concern is that there is a lot more (illness and death) out there that we don't seem to be preventing with our current strategy," Orenstein said.
At a conference sponsored by the Emory program last week, experts were "moving toward universal influenza immunization," Carol Baker, a pediatrician at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, said. She added that the "final consensus was that it should be a stepwise process," in which wider flu shot recommendations first would include children ages two to five.
However, some doctors have expressed concern about the availability of vaccine for high-risk patients. As many as 97 million doses are expected to become available this season, but shipments are "coming slowly," and some doctors have received only a small percentage of the shots they ordered, according to USA Today.
"Our vaccine supply (is) unreliable," Larry Fields, president of the American Academy of Family Physicians, said (Manning, USA Today, 10/31).