Skip to comments.Panel Wants Flu Shots for Age 50 and Up
Posted on 12/18/2004 7:55:17 AM PST by BenLurkin
ATLANTA - Worried that tens of thousands of doses may go to waste, a federal advisory panel wants the government to ease restrictions on the nation's supply of flu vaccine.
The panel recommended Friday that the shots be made available to everyone 50 and older.
The U.S. supply of flu vaccine was cut in half earlier this year when a Liverpool, England, factory was shut down because of contamination.
In response, the government recommended in October that healthy adults delay or skip a flu shot this season to save vaccine for the estimated 98 million people in the country who need it most the elderly, infants or those with chronic conditions.
Those people are at highest risk of severe complications or death from the flu, which kills on average 36,000 people and hospitalizes 200,000 each year in the country.
But more than four out of five states report having sufficient supplies of flu shots, and at least six states have reported a surplus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (news - web sites) reported.
One reason is that many of the elderly or chronically ill people who were given top priority for flu vaccinations did not even try to obtain a shot because they figured they would not be able to get one. Also, the flu season has been mild so far.
A flu shot is only good for the flu season it is made for, and any excess must be disposed of at the end of the season, which can run through April.
The panel is recommending the elderly, infants and the chronically ill still be given the highest priority, but that shots also be made available to a second-tier group of people ages 50 to 64 as well as those who are in close contact with high-risk individuals, depending on vaccine availability in each state.
However, the advisory panel said the CDC should focus first on helping state and local health departments reallocate supplies to any facing shortages, and then work to allow more people to get flu shots.
The recommendations were made by the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. The CDC usually accepts the panel's recommendations.
The emergency meeting was scheduled after a CDC study released Thursday found that more than half of all elderly or chronically ill adults have not yet gotten a flu shot. The committee concluded that those people in the high-risk groups who have not already sought a flu shot are unlikely to do so this season.
"Those at high risk have had that opportunity," said Dr. Greg Poland, a committee member and Mayo Clinic flu specialist. "We are in danger of seesawing from a year when everybody's concerned there's no vaccine, to not using what we have."
The committee also voted Friday to immediately recommend allowing children ages 2 to 18 to get the vaccine if they are in close contact with high-risk patients.
Some panel members wanted to go further and recommend offering shots to anyone who wants one, hoping that also would send the message to high-risk individuals that there is enough for them.
"Most people have a contact with a 50-year-old or young children, so I feel that if we are permissive and simple with our language, we will get the high-risk people coming in," said nurse Patsy Stinchfield, director of the Infectious Diseases Program at Children's Hospitals and Clinics in Minneapolis.
Remind people who should remember but don't.
Teach the younger voters who were too young in 2004 to follow politics.
NO MORE MEMORY HOLE!
Could we lower that to 47?
First there's a shortage and now they're going to waste.
When does the epidemic start? I seem to have forgotten that part.
The Raven Holt Public Health Center in Las Vegas, NV was giving them out to the old-timers at $20 a pop. Lots of people there but the lines moved fast. Wife was out in 10 minutes.
Just stay the he-- away from me with that crappo. This is one of the best products of the fear mongers among us.
I don't know about where you live but I have not seen anyone with the flu thus far this year. There has been a lot of people with colds. Maybe it is a slow start or maybe people are better off without flu shots unless they have other serious health problems.
I haven't heard of anyone with the flu here on the Pacific coast. A couple of bad, long colds, but no flu.
47? You might be a candidate for Flu Mist. Your doc can elaborate.
The source of the problem is that fear of LAWSUITS and earlier Clintonian meddling both added dis-incentives and removed incentives for drug companies to produce vaccines.
In essence, the flu vaccine shortage is an excellent preview of Hillary Care.
I got a shot last fall because of age and because I had my spleen removed, which lowers resistance to infection. But my wife was not able to get a shot.
The chief problem here is federal bureaucratic regulation. That caused the shortage, with hillary's unwise bill that provides cheap flu shots to kids (politically popular and economically disastrous) and then this kind of arbitrary regulation from on high.
It's similar to what happened in California after "deregulation." There was no real deregulation, but a bill that opened up the power market while clamping a tight lid on retail prices for power. The result was predictable.
The task of government regulation is to regulate, in order to level the playing field among competing companies, and to step in to end dangerous practices--not to micromanage.
I have a suspicion you're right. I'm 52, in good health, and I don't like injecting foreign substances into my body. I'm not going to do anything to weaken an immune system that's already working quite nicely. There are plenty of other nasty things besides flu that can take advantage of undefended territory.
they need some public relations advice.
Speaking of memory holes **tin foil hat alert* There appears to be a link between frequent flu shots sourced from foreign countries containing mercury and aluminim in group doses and multiples of Alzheimer's risk.
"According to Hugh Fudenberg, MD, the world's leading immunogeneticist and 13th most quoted biologist of our times (nearly 850 papers in peer review journals): If an individual has had 5 consecutive flu shots between 1970 and 1980 (the years studied) his/her chances of getting Alzheimer's Disease is 10 times higher than if he/she had one, 2 or no shots."
The use of mercury and other metals to preserve or enhance immune system reactions to vaccines continues despite US govt. lip service to the contrary. Foreign companies are exempt as are group vs. individual doses.
I'm not antivaccine, but some of them are plainly bad and I think this might be one of the bads. I would rather die from my existing heart disease and aging and risk the flu, than take the flu vaccine repeatedly and die from Alzheimer's.
I got my flu shot a week before the shortage was announced, so I got in under the wire. Since there's additional doses, why not lower the age limit?