CDC adopts advisory board call for universal flu vaccine

As public health groups begin to shift gears from focusing on the pandemic H1N1 influenza vaccine to the new seasonal vaccine, the Centers for Disease Control has adopted its advisory board’s call for universal influenza vaccination.

The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices called for immunizations for almost everyone over six months old in February, and issued a comprehensive seasonal vaccine update that included the new universal recommendation this week in an early online version of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

The CDC has been steadily expanding its influenza vaccination recommendations as scientific literature began touting the vaccine’s efficacy and safety, according to the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy. By 2009, the CDC was recommending it for 85 percent of the population.

The recommendation now includes all healthy and non-pregnant adults between the ages of 18 and 49. According to the CDC, this rather large segment is included because of the occurrence of flu complications that put people with often unknown underlying conditions at risk.

The CDC has also picked up the ACIP’s recent recommendation that children between six months and eight years who have not received at least one dose of the H1N1 vaccine be given two doses of the upcoming trivalent seasonal vaccine that also includes protection from H1N1.

Adults aged 65 or older can receive either the standard vaccine or a new high-dose version made by Sanofi.

The CDC is also in the process of determining a marketing campaign to promote its new recommendations. To that end, it is testing focus groups, planning communications strategies and preparing marketing materials. It hopes to have everything ready on its Web site by September 1.