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U.S. Advisers OK Nasal Spray Flu Vaccine for Young Children
Date:10/24/2007

FluMist should help kids intimidated by needles, experts say

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 24 (HealthDay News) -- Children as young as 2 years old can be given the nasal spray influenza vaccine FluMist, U.S. vaccine advisers recommended Wednesday.

Currently, FluMist is only recommended for healthy people ages 5 to 49. Traditional flu shots have been recommended for children younger than 5, but the advisers said Wednesday that FluMist should prove useful for children ages 2 to 4 who might be frightened by needles.

Recent studies have shown that FluMist, which uses a live, weakened flu virus, is safe and effective in children as young as 2. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration last month approved its use for that age group.

Wednesday's recommendation, by members of U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, said children with a history of asthma or wheezing should choose a shot and not FluMist.

The advisory panel's recommendations are typically accepted by U.S. health officials, and they influence insurance companies' decisions on vaccination coverage. The committee also voted that a government program that pays for vaccines extend its FluMist coverage to the 2- to 5-year-old age group, meaning millions of additional children will now be eligible for FluMist doses, the Associated Press reported.

The CDC recommends that all children age 6 months to 59 months receive a vaccination to protect against flu. Studies have shown that children younger than 5 years are hospitalized for flu at rates similar to adults 50 through 64 years old.

The FDA's approval last month of FluMist for younger children was based on studies of approximately 6,400 infants and children between the ages of 6 months and 59 months. Two studies compared FluMist to a placebo, and both trials demonstrated the vaccine's effectiveness in preventing flu illness, the agency said.<
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