CDC: All kids need flu shots

February 27, 2008 7:14:42 PM PST
A call Wednesday for a massive expansion of flu vaccinations in the U.S. an advisory panel to the centers for disease control is now recommending that every child in the U.S. get flu shots.

The committee calls for every child from six month to 18 years old to be vaccinated; that's about 30 million more children a year. It is possibly the largest expansion of fly vaccine covering in U.S. history.

"I think it's a good idea as long as they are not allergic and not too young to get the vaccine," said President and CEO CPMC Dr. Martin Brotman.

Dr. Martin Brotman is the president and CEO of California Pacific Medical Center. He says children get flu at a higher rate than other age groups. But they don't tend to get as sick -- it's their effect.

"If you think of what happens when children do get infected, they stay home. Their parents stay home. It becomes very expensive. The parents are exposed and they do less well with the flu," said Dr. Martin Brotman.

So experts believe giving flu shots to children may help prevent the illness in adults and the elderly.

Dr. Howard Backer, chief of the immunization branch of the California Department of Health Services was at the meeting in Atlanta when the recommendation was made.

"We think is this group is vaccinated, it will decrease the overall community exposure to infection," said Dr. Backer from the California Department of Health Services.

It's too late for this year, so increased vaccine production would come in 2009.

But how would it be delivered? The usual shot? Or the new nasal spray. A study sponsored by the maker of Flu Mist published in The New England Journal of Medicine says the spray might be more effective.

"The nasal vaccine, we'd be open to that. If that were required, we'd be right there in line," said San Francisco parent Muffi Guibert.

She's against needles, so three-year-old Aiden has not had a flu shot. So far he's been healthy, and other parents have already gone for it at doctor's recommendations.

"The shot wasn't traumatizing for him. It was for me," said San Francisco mother Beth Amabile.

"He got the shot, but it didn't help. He still got sick two times already," said Emeryville mother Jennie Chung.

But he was in daycare.

Even though this is just advisory, it's likely the CDC will approve it. It would mean maybe half of the U.S. population would be covered, but this is just a recommendation. Only states have the power to require immunizations.