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Notice to Readers: Expansion of Eligibility for Influenza Vaccine Through the Vaccines for Children Program

On June 20, 2002, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) adopted a resolution expanding the group of children eligible for influenza vaccine coverage under the Vaccines for Children (VFC) program. The resolution extends VFC coverage for influenza vaccine to all VFC-eligible children aged 6--23 months and VFC-eligible children aged 2--18 years who are household contacts of children aged <2 years. The resolution becomes effective on March 1, 2003, for vaccine to be administered during the 2003--04 influenza vaccination season and subsequent seasons. ACIP is expanding VFC influenza coverage because children aged <23 months are at substantially increased risk for influenza-related hospitalizations.

For the upcoming 2002--03 influenza season, no changes are being made to groups of children eligible for influenza vaccine under the VFC program. Children aged 6 months--18 years who are eligible for the VFC program and who have a high-risk medical condition or are household members of a person at high risk for complications may receive influenza vaccine through the program. Groups of children with high-risk medical conditions include those who 1) have chronic disorders of the pulmonary or cardiovascular systems, including asthma; 2) have required medical follow-up or hospitalization during the preceding year because of chronic metabolic diseases (including diabetes mellitus), renal dysfunction, hemoglobinopathies, or immunosuppression (including immunosuppression caused by medications); 3) are receiving long-term aspirin therapy; 4) are residents of long-term care facilities; and 5) are adolescent females in the second or third trimester of pregnancy during the influenza season (typically November--March).

The availability of additional supplies of influenza vaccine through the VFC program for the 2003--04 season will be based on anticipated need. VFC providers should provide their state's vaccination program with accurate and practical estimates of the number of VFC patients they plan to vaccinate. Accurate estimates are essential to ensure an adequate supply of vaccine and to avoid vaccine wastage. ACIP recommendations for the 2002--03 influenza season are available at http://www.cdc.gov/nip/flu/target-groups.htm and http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr5103a1.htm. Information about the VFC program is available at http://www.cdc.gov/nip/vfc. The VFC Resolution for Influenza Vaccine (10/98-4), effective during the 2002--03 season, is available at http://www.cdc.gov/nip/vfc/flu.pdf.



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