Health experts endorsed in Washington, D.C. the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's latest recommendation that all children between the ages of 6 months and 18 receive a flu shot, according to media reports Thursday.[File Photo: Xinhua]
Health experts endorsed in Washington, D.C. the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's latest recommendation that all children between the ages of 6 months and 18 receive a flu shot, according to media reports Thursday.
This means the number of children targeted for flu vaccinations this season will increase by about 30 million.
The expanded flu-shot project is supported by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
By increasing the target groups, health experts hoped, there will be a slash of the amount of time children and parents stay home from school and work, and a slash of the need for antibiotics to treat influenza.
School-age children have the highest rate of influenza in the U.S., according to William Schaffner, president-elect of the National Foundation of Infectious Diseases.
While influenza usually breaks out the most between December and March, people should be better vaccinated this month, Schaffner urged, suggesting a record of 146 million doses will be available.
"Flu is very transmissible in school," said Julie Gerberding, director of the Centers. "This is truly an effort not only to improve the individual health of children but to affect the population of children as they congregate in schools and day care."
Every year, between five and 20 percent of the U.S. population (15 million to 60 million) get the flu; 200,000 are hospitalized and about 35,000 die from influenza-related complications.
The Centters did not changed its recommendations regarding other groups who should get a flu shot, including people 50 and older, people with chronic illnesses, pregnant women and health care workers.
Overall, it indicated about 265.1 million people, or 85 percent of the U.S. population, should get a flu shot.
In the words of Gerberding, everyone should be vaccined except kids 6 months old and younger and "completely healthy adults who have no contact with someone who isn't."
"The message for most people is get your flu shot," Gerberding said. "It's an advantage to you or someone you care about."
(Agencies via Xinhua September 25, 2008)