YOU ASKED, WE ANSWERED: Answers to Your Flu Vaccine Questions

· Children are the greatest spreaders of the influenza virus in our communities. When they get infected, they excrete more virus than do adults and for a longer period of time. Thus, they are the great spreaders to adults around them — including parents, grandparents and others who may be at particular risk of complications of influenza. It is hoped that by protecting all the children that the circulation of the influenza virus in our communities will be reduced, thereby offering some protection to older adults and others who would be at risk of suffering the bad consequences of influenza (pneumonia, hospitalization and death).

· Each year, influenza in children closes schools, disrupts the education program, obliges parents to stay home and care for sick children (some parents lose wages), and causes visits to doctors' offices and hospital emergency rooms. Much of this distress, turbulence and cost (millions of dollars each year) could be averted by vaccinating all children against influenza.

· Last, it was acknowledged that this was a gigantic task. Thus, family doctors, pediatricians, public health departments and many others would need to organize to get this annual task accomplished. This will be neither easy nor quick. It will be done gradually — and should begin next influenza vaccination season, starting in September 2008 and going into January and February 2009.

The CDC's advisory committee conferred with many partner professionals about this. These included the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Family Physicians, and the Society for Adolescent Medicine, among others. All agreed that it was time to start vaccinating all children against influenza.

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