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Schedules Revised for Flu, Meningitis Vaccines

Goal is to make it easier for parents to protect their children, CDC says

FRIDAY, Jan. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Expanded use of the FluMist vaccine for children and revised meningococcal vaccination guidelines for teens are part of new immunization recommendations released Friday.

The 2008 Childhood and Adolescent Immunization Schedules were released jointly by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Academy of Family Physicians.

"Although we can now protect more children against more vaccine-preventable diseases than ever before, the immunization schedules can be confusing for parents and physicians," Dr. Anne Schuchat, director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said in a prepared statement. "The updates to this year's schedule help clarify our vaccination recommendations and, therefore, should make it easier for parents to protect their children against potentially serious diseases."

The childhood schedule changes to expand the recommendation for the nasal spray flu vaccine, FluMist, to now include children from 2 to 4 years of age without a history of asthma or wheezing. The vaccine, which contains a weakened form of the live virus and is sprayed in the nose, had previously been limited to healthy children 5 years of age and older and healthy adults up to age 50.

"We know that vaccinating children protects them against flu," Schuchat said. "This recommendation gives parents another choice when vaccinating their children."

The updated immunization schedule also includes vaccination against meningococcal disease, or meningitis. The Meningococcal Conjugate Vaccine (MCV4) is now recommended for children 11 to 12 years of age and teens 13 to 18 years of age who haven't been previously vaccinated and other people at heightened risk of meningococcal disease, including college freshmen living in dorms, as well as military recruits, the statement said.

Schuchat said the meningococcal disease recommendation modifies and simplifies the previous recommendation for routine vaccination with MCV4 of children 11 to 12 years of age, teens before starting high school (approximately 15 years of age), and other people at increased risk.

"Our goal is routine vaccination of all children beginning at age 11 years. College freshmen living in dormitories are at increased risk of meningococcal disease and should be vaccinated with MCV4 before college entry, if not previously," Schuchat said.

The new schedule also clarifies and updates recommendations for use of pneumococcal vaccine, which protects against pneumonia. Healthy children 24 months through 59 months of age not completely vaccinated should receive one dose of pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV4). Children 2 year of age and older with underlying medical conditions should receive pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPV), the statement said.

More information

For more on vaccine-preventable childhood diseases, visit the CDC.

-- HealthDay staff

SOURCE: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, news release, Jan. 11, 2008

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