Government urges universal flu vaccinations

August 23, 2010

Flu vaccine will soon be available at local pharmacies and doctor's offices, and government officials are urging everyone over 6 months of age to receive it. This year's vaccine protects against H1N1 and two other strains of seasonal flu.

The recommendation represents a break from past years, when the government focused on vaccinating people in certain "high-risk" groups and those in contact with people at high risk.

"The message is simple now," said David Weber, MD, MPH, professor of medicine, pediatrics and epidemiology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. "If you're more than 6 months of age, get the ."

"In an average year, there are more than 200,000 hospitalizations and more than 35,000 deaths from . Many of those would be preventable by simply getting the ," said Weber. "Flu shots are far and away the best way for preventing flu."

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, a (CDC) advisory panel that set the recommendation for universal vaccination cited last year's H1N1 outbreak—which affected many young, healthy people not traditionally considered to be at high risk for complications from flu—as part of the reason for the change. In addition, the list of conditions that put a person at high risk has grown so much over the years that many people are unaware of their high-risk status. Universal vaccination is expected to better protect individuals and the population as a whole.

People should receive the vaccine every year as soon as it becomes available, said Weber. "It's important every year. This year it may be more important because anybody who didn't get H1N1 last year is susceptible to it, and since that was the first year H1N1 was around, many people, if not most people, are susceptible."

The vaccine is reformulated each year to provide protection against the virus strains that present the greatest public health threat for that year. People who contracted H1N1 last year may have a lower chance of contracting it again this year, but they should still receive the vaccine for protection against seasonal flu.

Explore further: FDA approves 2006 strain of flu vaccine

Related Stories

CDC: Mild flu season apparently winding down

April 7, 2009

(AP) -- The flu season is winding down and turning out to be one of the mildest in years, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Swine flu fears push seasonal shots to record high

April 29, 2010

(AP) -- Fears of swine flu helped boost vaccination for ordinary seasonal flu last year, with a record 40 percent of adults and children getting the vaccine, federal health officials said Thursday.

Recommended for you

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

( -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.