In reaction to the recent announcement of the loss of the Chiron flu vaccine supply in the United States for the 2004-2005 flu season, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has issued a series of recommendations designed to help distribute the remaining available doses of vaccine to the persons considered most susceptible to the flu virus. The following recommendations are totally voluntary. The federal government has no power to decide who gets flu shots and who does not.
Priority Groups: Persons Who Should Get Flu Shots
The following priority groups for vaccination with inactivated influenza vaccine this season are considered to be of equal importance and are:
all children aged 6-23 months;
adults aged 65 years and older;
persons aged 2-64 years with underlying chronic medical conditions;
all women who will be pregnant during the influenza season;
residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities;
children aged 6 months-18 years on chronic aspirin therapy;
health-care workers involved in direct patient care; and
out-of-home caregivers and household contacts of children under 6 months old.
Other Vaccination Recommendations
Persons in priority groups identified above should be encouraged to search locally for vaccine if their regular health-care provider does not have vaccine available.
Intranasally administered, live, attenuated influenza vaccine, if available, should be encouraged for healthy persons who are aged 5-49 years and are not pregnant, including health-care workers (except those who care for severely immunocompromised patients in special care units) and persons caring for children under 6 months old.
Certain children aged < 9 years require 2 doses of vaccine if they have not previously been vaccinated. All children at high risk for complications from influenza, including those aged 6-23 months, who present for vaccination, should be vaccinated with a first or second dose, depending on vaccination status. However, doses should not be held in reserve to ensure that 2 doses will be available. Instead, available vaccine should be used to vaccinate persons in priority groups on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Persons Who Should Not Receive Influenza Vaccine
Persons in the following groups should not receive influenza vaccine before talking with their doctor:
persons with a severe allergy (i.e., anaphylactic allergic reaction) to hens' eggs and
persons who previously had onset of Guillain-Barré syndrome during the 6 weeks after receiving influenza vaccine.
For more information, call the National Immunization Hotline at (800) 232-2522 (English), (800) 232-0233 (español), or (800) 243-7889 (TTY).