July 29, 2009

CDC names H1N1 flu vaccine priorities

U.S. health experts said Wednesday that first responders, healthcare workers and those most at risk would be first in line for a H1N1 flu vaccine.

At a meeting of the 14-member Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, which advises the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, the committee determined that those with the highest risk of complications for H1N1 flu are pregnant women; people caring for infants under 6 months; children and young adults from 6 months-24 years; and people age 25-64 with medical problems like asthma, diabetes or heart disease, The New York Times reported.

However, the committee grappled with the issue of which group would be further refined if there was a shortage of the H1N1 flu vaccine, the newspaper reported.

Government officials said last week they projected there would be enough doses of vaccine needed -- estimated at 120 million doses -- by October, but unexpected things might happen to reduce the number of doses or delay the vaccine.

The committee said that if the shortage was severe -- some 40 million does of vaccine -- then only first responders, healthcare workers, pregnant women, those caring for infants and children under the age of 4 would be vaccinated, The Times said.

For seasonal flu, the elderly, the very young and their caregivers are considered most at risk for a seasonal flu shot.