Additional Information about Vaccination of Specific Populations
Influenza Prevention and Control Recommendations
Published for the 2010-11 Influenza Season; Adapted for the 2012-13 Influenza Season
Children Aged 6 Months–18 Years
Annual vaccination for all children aged 6 months--18 years is recommended. Healthy children aged 2--18 years can receive either live-attenuated influenza vaccine (LAIV) or trivalent inactivated influenza vaccine (TIV). Children aged 6--23 months, and those aged 2–4 years who have evidence of asthma, wheezing, or who have medical conditions that put them at higher risk for influenza complications should receive TIV (see Considerations When Using LAIV).
Recommendations to provide routine influenza vaccination to all children and adolescents aged 6 months–18 years are made on the basis of 1) accumulated evidence that influenza vaccine is effective and safe for children (see Influenza Vaccine Efficacy, Effectiveness, and Safety); 2) increased evidence that influenza has substantial adverse impacts among children and their contacts (e.g., school absenteeism, increased antibiotic use, medical care visits, and parental work loss) (see Health-Care Use, Hospitalizations, and Deaths Attributed to Influenza); and 3) an expectation that a simplified age-based influenza vaccine recommendation for all children and adolescents will improve vaccine coverage levels among children who already have a risk- or contact-based indication for annual influenza vaccination.
Children typically have the highest attack rates during community outbreaks of influenza and serve as a major source of transmission within communities. If sufficient vaccination coverage among children can be achieved, potential benefits include the indirect effect of reducing influenza among persons who have close contact with children and reducing overall transmission within communities. Achieving and sustaining community-level reductions in influenza will require mobilization of community resources and development of sustainable annual vaccination campaigns to assist health-care providers and vaccination programs in providing influenza vaccination services to children of all ages. In many areas, innovative community-based efforts, which might include mass vaccination programs in school or other community settings, will be needed to supplement vaccination services provided in health-care providers' offices or public health clinics. In nonrandomized community-based controlled trials, reductions in ILI-related symptoms and medical visits among household contacts have been demonstrated in communities where vaccination programs among school-aged children were established compared with communities without such vaccination programs.
Information about the vaccination schedule for children aged 6 months through 8 years is available in the 2012-13 recommendations.
Persons at Risk for Medical Complications
Vaccination to prevent influenza is particularly important for persons who are at increased risk for severe complications from influenza or at higher risk for influenza-related outpatient, ED, or hospital visits. When vaccine supply is limited, vaccination efforts should focus on delivering vaccination to the following persons:
- all children aged 6 months–4 years (59 months);
- all persons aged 50 years and older;
- adults and children who have chronic pulmonary (including asthma) or cardiovascular (except isolated hypertension), renal, hepatic, neurological, hematologic, or metabolic disorders (including diabetes mellitus);
- persons who have immunosuppression (including immunosuppression caused by medications or by HIV);
- women who are or will be pregnant during the influenza season;
- children and adolescents (aged 6 months–18 years) who are receiving long-term aspirin therapy and who might be at risk for experiencing Reye syndrome after influenza virus infection;
- residents of nursing homes and other long-term–care facilities;
- American Indians/Alaska Natives;
- persons who are morbidly obese (BMI is 40 or greater);
- HCP (health care professionals);
- household contacts and caregivers of children aged younger than 5 years and adults aged 50 years and older, with particular emphasis on vaccinating contacts of children aged 6 months and younger; and
- household contacts and caregivers of persons with medical conditions that put them at higher risk for severe complications from influenza.
For children, the risk for severe complications from influenza is highest among those aged younger than 2 years, who have much higher rates of hospitalization for influenza-related complications compared with older children. Medical care and ED visits attributable to influenza are increased among children aged younger than 5 years compared with older children. Chronic neurologic conditions are thought to place persons at higher risk for influenza complications on the basis of the potential for compromised respiratory function or the handling of respiratory secretions, both of which can increase the risk for aspiration; such conditions include cognitive dysfunction, spinal cord injuries, seizure disorders, or neuromuscular disorders.
An observational study conducted during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic indicated that morbid obesity, and possibly obesity, might be a new or previously unrecognized risk factor for influenza-related complications. In another study, American Indians/Alaska Natives were demonstrated to have a higher risk for death from 2009 H1N1 influenza. These medical and race/ethnicity risk factors might reflect a higher prevalence of underlying chronic medical conditions, including conditions that are not known by the patient or provider. Other minority groups, including blacks, have been demonstrated to have higher incidence of hospitalizations as a result of laboratory-confirmed influenza compared with whites; additional study is needed to determine the reasons.
Persons Who Live With or Care for Persons at Higher Risk for Influenza-Related Complications
All persons aged 6 months and older should be vaccinated annually. As providers and programs transition to providing annual vaccination to all persons, continued emphasis should be placed on vaccination of persons who live with or care for persons at higher risk for influenza-related complications. When vaccine supply is limited, vaccination efforts should focus on delivering vaccination to persons at higher risk for influenza-related complications as well as these persons:
- health care professionals (HCP);
- household contacts (including children) and caregivers of children aged 59 months and younger (i.e., aged younger than 5 years) and adults aged 50 years and older; and
- household contacts (including children) and caregivers of persons with medical conditions that put them at higher risk for severe complications from influenza.
Healthy persons who are infected with influenza virus, including those with subclinical infection, can transmit influenza virus to persons at higher risk for complications from influenza. In addition to HCP, groups that can transmit influenza to high-risk persons include:
- employees of assisted living and other residences for persons in groups at high risk;
- persons who provide home care to persons in groups at high risk; and
- household contacts of persons in groups at high risk, including contacts such as children or mothers of newborns.
In addition, because children aged younger than 5 years are at increased risk for influenza-related hospitalization compared with older children, vaccination is recommended for their household contacts and out-of-home caregivers. Because influenza vaccines have not been licensed by FDA for use among children aged younger than 6 months, emphasis should be placed on vaccinating contacts of these children.
Healthy HCP and persons aged 2–49 years who are contacts of persons in these groups and who are not contacts of severely immunocompromised persons living in a protected environment (see Close Contacts of Immunocompromised Persons) should receive either LAIV or TIV when indicated or requested. All other persons, including pregnant women, should receive TIV.
All HCP and persons in training for health care professions should be vaccinated annually against influenza. Persons working in health care settings who should be vaccinated include physicians, nurses, and other workers in both hospital and outpatient-care settings, medical emergency–response workers (e.g., paramedics and emergency medical technicians), employees of nursing home and long-term–care facilities who have contact with patients or residents, and students in these professions who will have contact with patients.
Facilities that employ HCP should provide vaccine to workers by using approaches that have been demonstrated to be effective in increasing vaccination coverage. The HCP influenza coverage goal should be vaccination of 100% of employees who do not have medical contraindications. Health care administrators should consider the level of vaccination coverage among HCP to be one measure of a patient safety quality program and consider obtaining signed declinations from personnel who decline influenza vaccination for reasons other than medical contraindications. Influenza vaccination rates among HCP within facilities should be measured regularly and reported, and ward-, unit-, and specialty-specific coverage rates should be provided to staff and administration.
Policies that work best to achieve this coverage goal might vary among facilities. Studies have demonstrated that organized campaigns can attain higher rates of vaccination among HCP with moderate effort and by using strategies that increase vaccine acceptance. One strategy is mandatory influenza vaccination for HCP, exempting only those with a medical contraindication.
For more information on influenza vaccination of health care personnel, see Recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP): Immunization of Health-Care Personnel, MMWR. 2011 Nov 15; 60(RR07);1-45.
The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health-Care Organizations has approved an infection-control standard that requires accredited organizations to offer influenza vaccinations to staff, including volunteers and licensed independent practitioners with close patient contact. The standard became an accreditation requirement beginning January 1, 2007. Some states have regulations regarding vaccination of HCP in long-term care facilities, require that health care facilities offer influenza vaccination to HCP, or require that HCP either receive influenza vaccination or indicate a religious, medical, or philosophic reason for not being vaccinated.
Information about vaccine coverage among health care personnel during the 2011-12 season can be found at Reports on Flu Vaccination Coverage and Utilization. Information about vaccine coverage among health care personnel during the 2010-11 season can be found in the MMWR article Influenza Vaccination Coverage Among Health-Care Personnel --- United States, 2010-11 Influenza Season.
Children aged younger than 6 months are not recommended for vaccination, and antivirals are not licensed for use among infants. Protection of young infants, who have hospitalization rates similar to those observed among the elderly, depends on vaccination of the infants' close contacts. A study conducted in Bangladesh demonstrated that infants born to vaccinated women have significant protection from laboratory-confirmed influenza, either through transfer of influenza-specific maternal antibodies or by reducing the risk for exposure to influenza that might occur through vaccination of the mother. All household contacts, health-care and day care providers, and other close contacts of young infants should be vaccinated.
Immunocompromised persons are at risk for influenza complications but might have inadequate protection after vaccination. Vaccination of close contacts of immunocompromised persons, including HCP, might reduce the risk for influenza transmission. In 2006, a joint recommendation from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and the Hospital Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee (HICPAC) recommended that TIV be used for vaccinating household members, HCP, and others who have close contact with severely immunosuppressed persons (e.g., patients with hematopoietic stem cell transplants) during those periods in which the immunosuppressed person requires care in a protective environment (typically defined as a specialized patient-care area with a positive airflow relative to the corridor, high-efficiency particulate air filtration, and frequent air changes). To reduce the theoretic risk for vaccine virus transmission, ACIP/HICPAC recommended that HCP who receive LAIV should avoid providing care for severely immunosuppressed patients requiring a protected environment for 7 days after vaccination, and hospital visitors who have received LAIV should avoid contact with severely immunosuppressed persons in protected environments for 7 days after vaccination but should not be restricted from visiting less severely immunosuppressed patients. Healthy nonpregnant persons aged 2–49 years, including HCP, who have close contact with persons with lesser degrees of immunosuppression (e.g., persons with chronic immunocompromising conditions such as HIV infection, corticosteroid or chemotherapeutic medication use, or who are cared for in other hospital areas such as neonatal intensive care units) can receive TIV or LAIV.
The rationale for avoiding use of LAIV among HCP or other close contacts of severely immunocompromised patients is the theoretic risk that a live attenuated vaccine virus could be transmitted to the severely immunosuppressed person. However, instances of LAIV transmission from a recently vaccinated person to an immunocompromised contact in health care settings have not been reported. In addition, the temperature-sensitive and attenuated viruses present in LAIV do not cause illness when administered to immunocompromised persons with HIV infection, children undergoing cancer treatment, or immunocompromised ferrets given dexamethasone and cytarabine. Concerns about the theoretic risk posed by transmission of live attenuated vaccine viruses contained in LAIV to patients should not be used to justify preferential use of TIV in health-care settings other than inpatient units that house severely immunocompromised patients requiring protected environments. Some health-care facilities might choose to not restrict use of LAIV in close contacts of severely immunocompromised persons, based on the lack of evidence for transmission in health-care settings since licensure in 2004.
Pregnant and Postpartum Women
Vaccination of pregnant women protects women and newborns. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Academy of Family Physicians also have previously recommended routine vaccination of all pregnant women. Women who are postpartum are also at risk for influenza complications and should be vaccinated. No preference is indicated for use of TIV that does not contain thimerosal as a preservative (see Vaccine Preservative [Thimerosal] in Multidose Vials of TIV) for any group recommended for vaccination, including pregnant and postpartum women. LAIV is not licensed for use in pregnant women, but postpartum women can receive LAIV or TIV. Pregnant and postpartum women do not need to avoid contact with persons recently vaccinated with LAIV.
Information about vaccine coverage among pregnant women during the 2011-2012 season can be found in Reports on Flu Vaccination Coverage and Utilization. Information about vaccine coverage among pregnant women during the 2010-11 season can be found in the MMWR article Influenza Vaccination Coverage Among Pregnant Women --- United States, 2010-11 Influenza Season.
Vaccination is recommended for all persons, including breastfeeding women, who are contacts of infants or children aged younger than 5 years because infants and young children are at high risk for influenza complications and are more likely to require medical care or hospitalization if infected. Breastfeeding does not affect the immune response adversely and is not a contraindication for vaccination. Unless contraindicated because of other medical conditions, women who are breastfeeding can receive either TIV or LAIV. In one randomized controlled trial conducted in Bangladesh, infants born to women vaccinated during pregnancy had a lower risk for laboratory-confirmed influenza. However, the contribution to protection from influenza of breastfeeding compared with passive transfer of maternal antibodies during pregnancy was not determined.
The risk for exposure to influenza during travel depends on the time of year and destination. In the temperate regions of the Southern Hemisphere, influenza activity occurs typically during April–September. In temperate climate zones of the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, travelers also can be exposed to influenza during the summer, especially when traveling as part of large tourist groups (e.g., on cruise ships) that include persons from areas of the world in which influenza viruses are circulating. In the tropics, influenza occurs throughout the year. In a study among Swiss travelers to tropical and subtropical countries, influenza was the most frequently acquired vaccine-preventable disease
Any traveler who wants to reduce the risk for influenza infection should consider influenza vaccination, preferably at least 2 weeks before departure. In particular, persons at high risk for complications of influenza and who were not vaccinated with influenza vaccine during the preceding fall or winter should consider receiving influenza vaccine before travel if they plan to travel:
- to the tropics,
- with organized tourist groups at any time of year, or
- to the Southern Hemisphere during April–September.
No information is available about the benefits of revaccinating persons before summer travel who already were vaccinated during the preceding fall, and revaccination is not recommended. Persons at high risk who receive the previous season's vaccine before travel should be receive the current vaccine the following fall or winter. Persons at higher risk for influenza complications should consult with their health-care practitioner to discuss the risk for influenza or other travel-related diseases before embarking on travel during the summer.
Vaccines for Different Age Groups
Each season, vaccination providers should check the latest information on FDA approval of seasonal influenza vaccines and CDC recommendations for use of these vaccines to determine which vaccines are licensed for use in any particular age. Immunization providers should consult updated information on use of influenza vaccines from CDC and FDA.