ABSTRACT: Despite long-standing recommendations to vaccinate children who have underlying chronic medical conditions or who are contacts of high-risk persons, vaccination coverage among school-age children remains low. Community studies have indicated that school-age children have the highest incidence of influenza and are an important source of amplifying and sustaining community transmission that affects all age groups.
A consultation to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of a universal recommendation for annual influenza vaccination of all children age ≥6 months was held in Atlanta, Georgia, in September 2007. Consultants provided summaries of current data on vaccine effectiveness, safety, supply, successful program implementation, and economics studies and discussed challenges associated with continuing a risk- and contact-based vaccination strategy compared with a universal vaccination recommendation.
Consultants noted that school-age children had a substantial illness burden caused by influenza, that vaccine was safe and effective for children aged 6 months through 18 years, and that evidence suggested that vaccinating school-age children would provide benefits to both the vaccinated children and their unvaccinated household and community contacts. However, implementation of an annual recommendation for all school-age children would pose major challenges to parents, medical providers and health care systems. Alternative vaccination venues were needed, and of these school-located vaccination programs might offer the most promise as an alternative vaccination site for school-age children.
Expansion of recommendations to include all school-age children will require additional development of an infrastructure to support implementation and methods to adequately evaluate impact.
PEDIATRICS 03/2012; 129 Suppl 2:S54-62. · 4.47 Impact Factor