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US Panel IDs Target Groups for the Influenza A(H1N1) Vaccine

Reported July 29, 2009

NEW YORK -- July 29, 2009 -- The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) met today to vote on recommendations that will be approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on which populations should be prioritised when the influenza A(H1N1) vaccination becomes available this fall.

The committee reviewed the epidemiology and the science and recommended 5 target groups for focus of immunisation:

  • Pregnant women

  • Household contacts of children aged younger than 6 months of age

  • Children and adults aged 6 months to 24 years

  • Healthcare and emergency workers

  • Individuals aged 25 to 64 years who have underlying conditions that put them at risk for complications and/or hospitalisation from the A(H1N1) flu.

Underlying conditions include chronic kidney disease and chronic pulmonary/respiratory disorders; cardiovascular, hepatic, haematological, neurological, and neuromuscular conditions; and metabolic disorders or immunosuppression.

Vaccinating household contacts of infants aged younger than 6 months will protect them from possible hospitalisation since they themselves cannot be vaccinated/protected.

Healthy individuals aged 25 to 64 years can be offered the vaccine after the first 5 groups are promoted and targeted, said Anne Schuchat, MD, director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, Atlanta, Georgia.



The same goes for individuals aged 65 years and older. Although elders are at high risk for complications from seasonal influenza, the A(H1N1) virus has spared this population. Therefore, they are also being considered a sequential group and will be offered the vaccine after the other groups are promoted. The CDC does recommend that this group continue to receive the seasonal influenza vaccine.

Prioritising within the 5 groups is not recommended. However, in a case scenario where supplies are very limited, prioritisation will be given to: (1) pregnant women; (2) household contacts of children aged younger than 6 months of age; (3) subset of healthcare and emergency workers; (4) children aged 6 months to 4 years; (5) children aged 5 to 18 years who have underlying conditions or risk factors.

Clinical trials of the vaccine will be launched shortly in the United States. However, the US Food and Drug Administration may license the vaccine without data from the clinical trials, said Dr. Schuchat. The vaccine will be tested in pregnant women.

The CDC is expecting approximately 120 million doses in the fall. "We do think it's likely most people will need 2 doses of this vaccine," said Dr. Schuchat.

The committee strongly recommends the 2009-2010 seasonal influenza vaccine for all individuals.

The ACIP recommendations will be reviewed quickly by the CDC and will be disseminated to hospitals and private and public health sectors, according to Dr. Schuchat.

The ACIP comprises 15 experts in fields associated with immunisation who have been selected by the Secretary of the United States Department of Health and Human Services to provide advice and guidance to the Secretary of Health, the Assistant Secretary for Health, and the CDC on the control of vaccine-preventable diseases.

SOURCE: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Media Briefing