The Center for Disease Control says everyone 6 months of age and older should get a flu vaccine every season. This recommendation has been in place since February 24, 2010, when CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) voted for “universal” flu vaccination in the United States to expand protection against the flu to more people.
Vaccination to prevent influenza is particularly important for people who are at high risk of serious complications from influenza. Seniors should be vaccinated for the flu before December, according to new vaccination recommendation by the CDC announced today.
Those with what the CDC says should get “priority” are:
•Children aged 6 months through 4 years (59 months);
•People aged 50 years and older;
•People with chronic pulmonary (including asthma), cardiovascular (except hypertension), renal, hepatic, neurologic, hematologic, or metabolic disorders (including diabetes mellitus);
•People who are immunosuppressed (including immunosuppression caused by medications or by human immunodeficiency virus);
•Women who are or will be pregnant during the influenza season;
•People who are aged 6 months through 18 years and receiving long-term aspirin therapy and who therefore might be at risk for experiencing Reye syndrome after influenza virus infection;
•People who are residents of nursing homes and other chronic-care facilities;
•American Indians/Alaska Natives;
•People who are morbidly obese (body-mass index is 40 or greater);
•Household contacts and caregivers of children younger than 5 years and adults aged 50 years and older, with particular emphasis on vaccinating contacts of children aged younger than 6 months; and
•Household contacts and caregivers of people with medical conditions that put them at higher risk for severe complications from influenza.
The influenza season typically peaks between December and February. For adults over the age of 65, the flu vaccine's effectiveness can decline “significantly” in the months following vaccination, the CDC noted. While delaying vaccination may help older adults have greater immunity later in the flu season, the CDC encourages seniors to get vaccinated before the virus begins to circulate in order to avoid “difficulties in vaccinating a population within a more constrained time period.”
The 2015-2016 recommendations were released through this week's issue of the CDC's Mortality and Morbidity Weekly Report.
The push for earlier vaccinations in seniors comes after a particularly nasty flu season, which saw higher-than-usual flu cases in nursing homes and other healthcare facilities. During the first full week of 2015, adults over 65 were hospitalized for the flu at a rate of 91.6 per 100,000, up almost 20 points from the same period in 2013.