AAFP Approves Universal Flu Immunization Recommendation

Academy Also Supports Use of New Pneumococcal Vaccine

March 16, 2010 04:30 pm News Staff

The AAFP has approved a provisional recommendation by the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, or ACIP, to expand the recommendation for annual influenza vaccination to include all people ages 6 months and older in whom the vaccine is not contraindicated.

The Academy also has approved ACIP's recommendation that children ages 6 weeks to 5 years receive the recently approved 13-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, Prevnar 13, in place of the seven-valent Prevnar product.

Both provisional recommendations were made during ACIP's Feb. 24-25 meeting in Atlanta. The finalized pneumococcal recommendation was published March 12 in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report(www.cdc.gov).

According to the AAFP's 2009 immunization survey, more than 70 percent of Academy members are in favor of a universal flu vaccine recommendation. In 2008, ACIP, the AAFP and the American Academy of Pediatrics expanded annual influenza immunization recommendations to include all children ages 6 months to 18 years, beginning no later than the 2009-2010 flu season.

Before ACIP made its universal vaccine recommendation, 85 percent of Americans already had an indication for seasonal flu vaccination. However, many people in high-risk groups did not know they were considered high risk or that they were recommended to receive the vaccine, said Doug Campos-Outcalt, M.D., M.P.A., the AAFP's liaison to ACIP.

Campos-Outcalt, who is associate head of the department of family and community medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine, Phoenix, said after the committee's February meeting that the universal recommendation may lead to higher uptake of the vaccine. He also said that, despite the expanded recommendations, no supply problems are anticipated because new flu vaccine products are coming on the market.

Less than half of the people recommended to receive flu vaccinations each year usually do so, according to the CDC.

Meanwhile, Prevnar 13 was recommended by the ACIP the same day it was approved by the FDA. The vaccine, which is manufactured by Collegeville, Pa.-based Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, replaces Prevnar, the seven-valent conjugate vaccine that was licensed in 2000 to prevent invasive pneumococcal disease and otitis media.

The new vaccine is administered in a four-dose series at ages 2, 4, 6 and 12-15 months.

Wyeth said in a Feb. 24 news release that children who started their vaccination series with Prevnar should complete the series with Prevnar 13. In addition, a booster dose of Prevnar 13 is recommended for children as old as 59 months who have completed the four-dose Prevnar series.

Pfizer, Wyeth's parent company, said it expects the new vaccine to be available in the United States during the first quarter of 2010.