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CDC advisory panel says virtually everyone should get a seasonal flu shot

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommended Wednesday that all Americans over the age of 6 months -- with the exception of those who are allergic to eggs -- should receive a seasonal flu shot every year, beginning this fall. The advice must be accepted by the CDC director and the Department of Health and Human Services before it becomes official, but that ratification is usually pro forma.

The CDC has been slowly broadening the recommendations for flu shots over the last few years to the point where about 85% of the population is now covered. The primary exception now is adults ages 19 to 49 who do not have underlying medical conditions. But the committee noted that many such adults do not realize they are at risk because of diabetes, hypertension or other hidden problems and do not seek the shots.

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Normally, only about a third of Americans are immunized against the flu and many doses of the vaccine are left over. This year, because of heightened fears about the pandemic H1N1 influenza virus, 114 million people were immunized. The CDC said new production facilities are coming online and there should be plenty of vaccine available in the fall.

The CDC has recommended that the swine flu virus be included as one of the three components in next year’s seasonal flu vaccine.

-- Thomas H. Maugh II


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