Pregnant women, caregivers of young children, and healthcare workers should be among the first to receive a vaccine against the H1N1 virus when one becomes available, recommends a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention committee.
The CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices met to develop recommendations on who should receive a vaccine against the virus—sometimes referred to as swine flu—and also determine which populations should be a priority for vaccination.
The committee recommended that when a vaccine is available, programs and providers should try to vaccinate these five groups first: pregnant women, people who live with or care for children under 6 months old, healthcare and emergency services personnel, persons between the ages of 6 months and 24 years of age, and people from ages 25 and 64 who are at higher risk for the virus because of chronic health disorders or compromised immune systems. These five groups represent about 159 million people, the CDC said.
And while the Atlanta-based agency said it does not expect a shortage of the vaccine, it did say that availability and demand could be unpredictable. If the vaccine is available in limited quantities, then these groups should receive the vaccine before others: pregnant women, people who live with or care for children under 6 months old, healthcare workers, children between the ages of 6 months and 4 years old, and children between the ages of 5 and 18 who have chronic medical conditions.
Normally, the 15-member ACIP panel—composed of physicians, scientists and public health experts—meets just three times a year, according to remarks from Anne Schucat, director of the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, in a news conference transcript. The group held an urgent meeting to develop these recommendations, Schucat said.
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