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CDC Flu Shot Push Puts Parents in Dilemma

Posted by Jane Akre
Wednesday, February 27, 2008 2:18 PM EST
Category: Major Medical, Protecting Your Family
Tags: FDA and Prescription Drugs, Medical Malpractice, Defective Drugs, Influenza, Flu, Flu Drugs

Parents who wand to follow the CDC's expert panel and vaccinate all children from 6 months to age 18, might want to understand what to ask and look for.

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A CDC expert panel now urges all children ages six months to 18 be vaccinated against flu or influenza in the upcoming 2009-2010 flu season.  

A panel of vaccine advisers made that unanimous vote today and the CDC generally follows the panel’s advice. The decision could affect up to 30 million children and marks the largest recommended guideline expansion in U.S. history.  

Previously flu shots were recommended for children ages six months to five years and adults 50 and older as well as those with weak immune systems. 

The CDC shows children ages 5 to 18 actually get more cases of the flu, but they don’t tend to get as sick.

Families Fighting Flu Inc. is a group of parents who lost their young children suddenly to influenza. The children, such as Jessica Stein, were otherwise healthy. The group is supporting today’s vote to include all children ages six months to 18 years. 

"This is a very exciting day for Families Fighting Flu, as this monumental vote is critical to the wellbeing of millions of children," said Richard Kanowitz, president of Families Fighting Flu; his four-year-old daughter, Amanda, died from influenza in 2004.

Children are particularly susceptible to influenza because they come in close contact from other school-aged children and they have less developed immune systems. Often school-age children infect adults or younger siblings.

So far this season about 22 children have died, 68 children last year due to influenza.

Dr. Carol Baker, president of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases tells Reuters that only about 20 percent of babies up to two years were vaccinated last flu season. “I think most parents do not understand how dangerous influenza is,” she said.

But parents need to ask questions of their health practitioners. The influenza vaccine has not only been partially ineffective this year but it presents its own potential set of problems.

  • The majority of influenza vaccine distributed in the U.S.contains thimerosal as a preservative. Some formulations contain a “trace” amount of the preservative, but the amount of dilution is uncertain. Mercury is the neurotoxin linked to autism. And although federal health officials deny the link, many parents believe vaccinations caused their child's autism.

For children between the ages of 2 and 5 years of age, there are three products available that are thimerosal-free (sanofi’s Fluzone; MedImmune’s FluMist) or preservative-free (trace thimerosal- [Novartis’s Fluvirin]). 

The CDC web site shows formulations that do not contain thimerosal, usually single-dose. Always ask your health provider to see the vial if you are concerned about thimerosal and would like to practice precaution.

The Vaccine Risk Awareness Network (VRAN) said in 2006 that the flu vaccine is "not worth the bother".

Families Fighting Flu, Inc. is made possible by unrestricted grants from MedImmune, Inc., GlaxoSmithKline, Sanofi Pasteur, Novartis Vaccines, CSL Biotherapies, and The Clorox Company.

Five companies make the flu vaccine for use in the U.S. -  Sanofi Pasteur, Australia's CSL Ltd, GlaxoSmithKline Plc, Novartis AG and nasal spray maker MedImmune, recently acquired by AstraZeneca Plc.

The recommendations come as vaccine advisers try to formulate next years’ flu vaccine and predict which strains will be most likely to reappear.  This year’s vaccine has not been very successful against the A/Brisbane virus. #

 


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