Dec 9, 2004 (CIDRAP News) – If states have extra influenza vaccine left in the private sector after the demand from high-priority groups has been met, people in lower-priority groups should be allowed to get flu shots, federal health officials said yesterday.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said geographic differences in vaccine distribution and demand justify some exceptions to the policy of reserving flu shots for those at highest risk for flu-related complications.
"Some areas have small amounts of vaccine scattered among private sector providers that would be difficult to redistribute," the agency said in a message to healthcare providers. To prevent waste of vaccine, if state health officials determine that all high-priority people who wanted shots have received them and that doses are still available in the private sector, the state can expand eligibility for the available doses.
"Such an expansion might include individuals who would normally receive vaccine such as those between 50 and 65 years of age, household contacts of high-priority individuals, or other populations deemed to be at risk by the state," the CDC said.
But private providers who have large supplies of unused vaccine should be encouraged to work with state officials to transfer the doses to other states where high-priority groups still need shots, the CDC added. Until all high-priority people nationwide have had a chance to get a shot, "vaccine currently held in the public sector and apportioned vaccine that has not yet been delivered should be directed only to those high-priority populations."
People who should get a flu shot this year, according to the CDC, include 6- to 23-month-old babies, the elderly, nursing home residents, people with chronic illnesses, pregnant women, healthcare workers who take care of patients, children who take aspirin daily, and people who have or care for a baby under 6 months old,
CDC's 2004-05 recommendations on who should get a flu shot