Are Universal Flu Shots on the Horizon?

DECEMBER 01, 2005

Mounting research suggests that, if more individuals received the flu vaccine, the whole population would be better protected. The recommendation is especially important for children, who tend to pass infection to older individuals, according to Walter Orenstein, MD, director of Emory University's Program for Vaccine Policy and Development.

A recent conference on the flu vaccine policy questioned whether the current flu vaccine strategy is effective. As of now, babies 6 months to 23 months old, individuals over 50, and all persons with chronic health problems are advised to get vaccinated to ward off infection. A universal vaccine recommendation may be a good idea, but at-risk individuals should be first in line. Also, a strategy needs to be in place for how to distribute it.

Health care experts support "moving toward universal influenza immunization," said pediatrician Carol Baker, MD, but "the final consensus was that it should be a stepwise process."