Coinciding with a record amount of flu vaccine available, the largest numbers of Americans in history are advised to get a flu shot.
The Centers for Disease Control added children aged 5 to 18 years to the list of those urged to get a yearly flu vaccine, bringing the total percentage of Americans targeted to 86 percent.
“I have a smile on my face this year because we are looking at a wonderful supply of flu vaccine,” said CDC director Julie Louise Gerberding at a news conference.
In previous years, vaccine often ran short of demand or gave poor protection against the strain of flu that was currently circulating. Last season’s vaccine was only about 44 percent effective.
In addition to the newly targeted group, people 50 and older, younger adults with chronic illnesses such as diabetes, asthma, and AIDS, health care workers, pregnant women, and those who work with infants are urged to get the vaccine. Children ages 6 months to 8 years are advised to get two flu shots spaced a month apart, because a single shot might not fully protect them. A nasal spray will be an alternative to the shot for those ages 2 to 49.
The vaccine for the upcoming flu season will consist of three killed flu viruses. Normally, one or two of the viruses are updated each year as new strains of influenza viruses evolve, but this season, all three elements are new.
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