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Virtually Everyone Should Get a Flu Shot: CDC

The recommendation will take effect for the next influenza season ,,

THURSDAY, Feb. 25 (HealthDay News) -- All Americans 6 months of age and older should get a flu shot each year, a panel of U.S. advisers is recommending.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices voted Wednesday to expand the current recommendations on who should get a flu shot to include almost everyone.

Already, "the recommendations as they stood before the vote included 85 percent of all Americans," noted CDC spokesman Richard Quartarone.

The new recommendation will take effect for the 2010-11 flu season, he said.

Part of the reason the committee decided to expand the recommendation was to remove confusion about who did and who did not need to be vaccinated, Quartarone said.

He said that patients and doctors were often not sure whether a flu shot was appropriate, and physicians would have to question patients to determine whether he or she needed a shot.

Now there should be no confusion, Quartarone said: "There is general consensus that it is important for everyone to get vaccinated against the flu."

Some people remain at higher risk for flu complications, including people 65 and older, pregnant women, and people with certain chronic medical conditions, such as asthma and heart disease, according to the CDC.

These people, "their household and close contacts, and all health care personnel should continue to be a primary focus for vaccination efforts as providers and programs transition to routinely vaccinating all people 6 months of age and older," the agency said.

The current H1N1 swine flu pandemic also played a part in the committee's decision, Quartarone said. Next season's flu vaccine will include the H1N1 strain, he said.

Because the H1N1 flu affected a disproportionate number of children and younger adults, including the swine flu strain in the vaccine will help protect them, the CDC spokesman said.

"This is a practical recommendation to make it easier for people to get vaccinated," Quartarone said. "It reduces illnesses, potentially saves lives --the vote was almost unanimous," he said.

The CDC will encourage all American to follow these recommendations, Quartarone said.

More information

For more on flu, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

SOURCE: Richard Quartarone, spokesman, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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