CDC Advisors Make Recommendations for Use of H1N1 Vaccine

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) met recently to make recommendations for use of vaccine against novel influenza A (H1N1), including who should receive vaccine against novel influenza when it becomes available and which groups of the population should be prioritized if the vaccine is initially available in extremely limited quantities.

Designed to help reduce the impact and spread of novel H1N1, the committee recommended the vaccination efforts focus on five key populations. These populations include those who are at higher risk of disease or complications, those who are likely to come in contact with novel H1N1, and those who could infect young infants.

When vaccine is first available, the committee recommended that programs and providers try to vaccinate:

  • pregnant women,
  • people who live with or care for children younger than 6 months of age,
  • health care and emergency services personnel,
  • persons between the ages of 6 months through 24 years of age, and
  • people from ages 25 through 64 years who are at higher risk for novel H1N1 because of chronic health disorders or compromised immune systems.

The groups listed above total approximately 159 million people in the United States.

The committee does not expect that there will be a shortage of novel H1N1 vaccine, but availability and demand can be unpredictable. There is some possibility that initially the vaccine will be available in limited quantities. In this setting, the committee recommended that the following groups receive the vaccine before others:

  • pregnant women,
  • people who live with or care for children younger than 6 months of age,
  • health care and emergency services personnel with direct patient contact,
  • children 6 months through 4 years of age, and
  • children 5 through 18 years of age who have chronic medical conditions.

The committee further recommended that once the demand for vaccine for these prioritized groups has been met at the local level, programs and providers should begin vaccinating everyone from ages 25 through 64 years. Current studies indicate the risk for infection among persons age 65 or older is less than the risk for younger age groups. Therefore, as vaccine supply and demand for vaccine among younger age groups is being met, programs and providers should offer vaccination to people older than the age of 65.

The committee also stressed that people over the age of 65 receive the seasonal vaccine as soon as it is available. Even if novel H1N1 vaccine is initially only available in limited quantities, supply and availability will continue, so the committee stressed that programs and providers continue to vaccinate unimmunized patients and not keep vaccine in reserve for later administration of the second dose.

The novel H1N1 vaccine is not intended to replace the seasonal flu vaccine. It is intended to be used alongside seasonal flu vaccine to protect people. Seasonal flu and novel H1N1 vaccines may be administered on the same day.

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