Recommendations regarding who should get the flu vaccine each year continue to expand. Earlier this year, an influential governmental agency panel recommended that all children, except infants under the age of 6 months and persons with serious egg allergies, receive the vaccine each year. Previously the recommendation focused on older children. The expanded recommendation will mean that many more children will probably be vaccinated than during previous years.
The new recommendation seems to be a factor in the push by the five US flu vaccine manufacturers to increase the number of doses of vaccine they intend to produce for the 2008-2009 flu season. The latest count indicates that a record 143 million doses will be provided if the companies make available all the doses they announced earlier. Some are predicting that the actual number of doses given this next flu season may be less than that number. One reason has to do with the fact that last season's vaccine was only 44 percent effective. Still, the fact that influenza causes over 30,000 deaths each year may weight heavy in favor of more children getting the vaccine.