The United States Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), which advises the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on vaccine issues, voted to approve a new recommendation on February 24 to offer seasonal influenza vaccination to the whole population aged 6 months and older. It is reported in a CDC Press Release that discussion focused on the value of protecting all people 19 to 49 years of age, who were especially affected by the 2009 H1N1 pandemic virus, which is likely to continue circulating into next season. Another reason for the universal recommendation is that many people in currently recommended “higher risk” groups are unaware of their risk factor or that they are recommended for vaccination.
This decision took place against a backdrop of incremental increases in the numbers and groups of people recommended for influenza vaccination in years past. Previously ACIP recommended vaccination on people at higher risk of experiencing severe disease, children aged 6 months through 18 years of age and close contacts of higher risk persons. It is estimated that this already covered about 85% percent of the U.S. population.
ECDC Comment (26-02-2010)
It is important to appreciate that the actual annual coverage with the seasonal influenza vaccine is still considerably below what is aspired to in the United States. For example in the latest available data (2007-8) coverage in people over 64 years was estimated to be 66% while in younger people with chronic illness coverage it ranged from 30% to 39% according to age-group. Coverage among children was estimated to be 33% with a single dose.(1) However, these are figures that are still considerably higher than for many if not most European Countries.(2,3) The European Health Council in December passed a recommendation setting a 75% target for older people and people in risk groups and ECDC will be working with the European Commission and WHO to support Member States in enacting that recommendation under its Seasonal Influenza Immunisation Project.(4)
1. CDC US Seasonal Influenza Immunisation Coverage http://www.cdc.gov/flu/professionals/acip/coveragelevels.htm
2. Mereckiene J, Cotter C, Nicoll A, Lévy-Bruhl D, Ferro A, Tridente G, Zanoni G, Berra P S Salmaso S, O'Flanagan D on behalf of the VENICE project gatekeepers group National Seasonal Influenza Vaccination Survey in Europe, 2008 Eurosurveillance, Volume 13, Issue 43, 23 October 2008 http://www.eurosurveillance.org/ViewArticle.aspx?ArticleId=19017
3. VENICE Project and ECDC National Seasonal Influenza Vaccination Survey in Europe, 2007-8. http://venice.cineca.org/Influenza_Study_Report_v1.0.pdf
4. Nicoll A. A new decade, a new seasonal influenza: the Council of the European Union Recommendation on seasonal influenza vaccination Eurosurveillance January 7th 2010 http://www.eurosurveillance.org/ViewArticle.aspx?ArticleId=19458