National Foundation For Infectious Diseases Supports New Policy Issued By American Academy Of Pediatrics Recommending Routine Pediatric Influenza Vaccination
BETHESDA, Md., March 10 /PRNewswire/ -- The National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) strongly supports new recommendations issued today by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) that call for all healthy infants and children 6 to 24 months of age to be immunized against influenza. The new policy also stresses annual influenza immunization of children of all ages with certain chronic medical conditions as well as household contacts, out-of-home caregivers and health care professionals in contact with all children younger than 24 months of age.
The new AAP recommendations strengthen earlier vaccine policy from an encouragement to the level of a full immunization recommendation. The policy reinforces the message to pediatricians, family practitioners and parents about the importance of annual influenza protection for all healthy children 6 to 24 months of age and their contacts, as well as for all children 6 months of age and older with high-risk medical conditions, such as asthma and diabetes.
"The National Foundation for Infectious Diseases strongly supports AAP's newly issued pediatric influenza recommendations," said William Schaffner, MD, professor and chairman of the department of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and an NFID board member. "NFID is committed to educational outreach efforts in support of AAP's recommendation that will help increase awareness about the importance of influenza immunization among infants and children and increase vaccination rates."
AAP's new policy cites studies that show children of all ages with certain chronic medical conditions as well as otherwise healthy children younger than 24 months of age are hospitalized for influenza infection and its complications at high rates -- similar to those experienced by the elderly. AAP's policy "recommends influenza immunization for healthy children between 6 to 24 months of age, for household contacts and out-of-home caregivers of all children younger than 24 months of age and for health care professionals. To protect these children more fully against the complications of influenza, increased efforts are needed to identify all high-risk children and inform their parents when immunization is due."
Influenza puts children 6 to 24 months of age at significant risk for hospitalizations due to pneumonia, respiratory conditions, heart failure and inflammation of the heart muscle (myocarditis). Influenza illness also increases the risk of a child developing otitis media, pneumonia, croup and sepsis, and is a risk factor for the complication of bacterial superinfection. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 120 influenza-related deaths occurred among children aged less than 18 years during the 2003-2004 influenza season.
In an effort to increase pediatric influenza vaccination rates, NFID has initiatives underway to help ensure infants and children receive the vaccine. Last year, NFID issued a report, entitled Increasing Influenza Immunization Rates in Infants and Children: Putting Recommendations Into Practice, which details strategies to help pediatric and family practices set up successful flu vaccination programs. Those strategies form the centerpiece of a national NFID campaign to improve pediatric immunization rates in private practice, managed care and public health settings. In addition, new practice resources will soon become available to health care providers on how to implement pediatric influenza vaccination clinics.
The official AAP policy statement can be accessed on the AAP Web site: http://www.aap.org/policy/influenzafinal.pdf.
Full text of the NFID report on pediatric influenza is available on the NFID Web site at http://www.nfid.org/.
Founded in 1973, NFID is a non-profit organization dedicated to public and professional educational programs about, and in support of, research into causes, treatment, and prevention of infectious diseases.
Contact: Jennifer Passantino
732-382-8898National Foundation for Infectious Diseases
CONTACT: Jennifer Passantino, +1-732-382-8898, for National Foundationfor Infectious Diseases