Frieden said children, particularly those with underlying medical conditions, need to be treated promptly if they develop a fever, and "are at the front of the line for vaccination when it becomes available."
Federal health officials expect an initial shipment of 45 million swine flu vaccine doses to be ready by mid-October.
The CDC is recommending that all children aged 6 months and older be vaccinated against the swine flu virus. Children should also be vaccinated for seasonal flu, Frieden said.
Dr. Pascal James Imperato, dean and distinguished service professor in the School of Public Health at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in New York City, said, "Young children with serious medical conditions are always at greater risk for severe illness and death from seasonal influenza compared to their healthy counterparts."
The H1N1 deaths of children younger than 18 last spring documented by the CDC confirm that such risk also exists with the swine flu virus, Imperato said.
"There is nothing surprising in this finding," he said. "It is significant that of the children who died, 22 had neurodevelopmental conditions, which obviously placed them at special high risk. Such children should clearly be high in the priority list for immunization not only against the H1N1 swine flu, but also against the seasonal flu."
Besides children and young adults, who seem to lack immunity to the H1N1 virus, pregnant women, people with preexisting health problems, such as diabetes, and health-care workers also top the CDC's list of vaccine candidates once it becomes available.
Dr. Marc Siegel, an associate professor
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