CDC advisors to weigh who should receive H1N1 vaccine

Jul 28, 2009 (CIDRAP News) – The immunization advisory group for the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) meets tomorrow in an emergency session to discuss which groups should be targeted to receive the pandemic H1N1 vaccine and whether some should have priority.

Pregnant women, children, and people with underlying medical conditions have been among the groups hit hardest by the novel flu virus and are expected to be among the groups tagged to receive some of the first doses of the vaccine, which are expected in mid October at the earliest.

The CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) last met in late June for 3 days, adding discussion of novel H1N1 vaccine topics to its  regular agenda items. On July 17 the CDC announced it would hold an emergency ACIP meeting to address issues surrounding pandemic H1N1 vaccine.

The government has ordered nearly 195 million doses of the vaccine from five different producers, but officials have said the decision to use the vaccine will be made separately.

Tomorrow's meeting will be available on a live Webcast, and the links are available on the CDC's Web site.

The meeting agenda says ACIP members will hear updates on national and global epidemiologic trends, virology, and vaccine development. CDC officials will also brief the group on vaccine priority groups, vaccination implementation planning, and immunization communications strategy. At the end of the day, ACIP will discuss and vote on its influenza work group's recommendations.

Federal health officials previously thought through the pandemic vaccine allocation process and issued official guidance in July 2008. However, it's not known how closely ACIP's recommendations will follow that guidance, which emphasizes protecting healthcare workers, critical infrastructure workers, those at high occupational risk, and children.

Officials at yesterday's meeting of the government's National Vaccine Advisory Committee said states have already been given some scenarios to help them begin their vaccination planning. The scenarios suggest planning vaccination campaigns at sites that reach young children, school-age children, pregnant women, people with underlying medical conditions, and healthcare workers.

In the 2008 federal guidance, people are assigned to five different priority groups, or tiers, which move higher or lower depending on pandemic severity. However, tier 1 is the same for all severity levels: deployed military forces, critical healthcare workers, emergency medical services workers, public safety workers, pregnant women, infants, and toddlers. An estimated 24 million people are in tier 1.

See also:

ACIP agenda and meeting access information

Jul 23, 2008, CIDRAP News story "New pandemic vaccine plan keeps focus on critical workers"

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