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Annual flu vaccine still needed, CDC advisory panel says

February 27, 2015
by Lois A. Bowers, Senior Editor
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Everyone aged six or more months should continue to be vaccinated against influenza annually, according to the committee that advises the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) no longer recommends the nasal spray flu vaccine (when it is available) over the shot for healthy children aged two to eight, however, based on new data that do not confirm that the spray is superior to the shot for children as was observed in earlier studies.

The panel of immunization experts voted on its influenza vaccine recommendations for 2015–2016 yesterday after reviewing vaccine effectiveness estimates for the 2013–2014 flu season and for the current 2014–2015 season.

Since 2010, the CDC and ACIP have recommended that everyone aged six or more months obtain a flu vaccine annually, with rare exception. Since the CDC began measuring vaccine effectiveness in 2004–2005, estimates of effectiveness have ranged from 10 to 60 percent. The similarity between the vaccine viruses and circulating influenza viruses, as well as the vaccinated person’s age, health and immune status can affect how well the vaccine works.

CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, must adopt the recommendation before it is effective. Then it would then be incorporated into the 2015–2016 influenza prevention and control recommendations and published in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, at which point it would become official CDC policy.

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