In February, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), which advises the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on vaccine guidance, made a landmark decision establishing a universal influenza vaccine recommendation, starting with the 2010–11 influenza season. This means that all people in the United States—excluding babies younger than age six months and people with certain medical conditions—are now recommended to receive influenza vaccine every year.
The new recommendation is simple, straightforward, and easy to communicate. It eliminates the complexities of the prior recommendations, which said people should be vaccinated if they fell into any of 15 different targeted groups (a lengthy list to commit to memory). Going forward, healthcare professionals will have a very easy time deciding which of their patients are recommended for influenza vaccine. And patients will eventually come to recognize that influenza vaccine is routinely recommended for them. Now, the message is simple: everyone, every year, unless specifically contraindicated.
Here at the Immunization Action Coalition, we welcome this change. We think it will erase any uncertainties healthcare professionals and their patients may have had about who should be vaccinated, and will lead to more people than ever protecting themselves, their families, and their communities by getting immunized.
Deborah L. Wexler, MD
Immunization Action Coalition