Most physicians agree that widespread routine influenza vaccination for young children is feasible


CHICAGO –Most pediatricians and family physicians who completed a nationwide survey agreed that universal influenza vaccination for infants is feasible, according to an article in the September issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

In 2003, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices published a new recommendation for children 6 to 23 months old to routinely receive the influenza vaccine. According to background information in the article, the influenza vaccine must be given annually, and for children younger than nine years old receiving the vaccine for the first time, a second dose should be given at least four weeks after the first. However, little is known about the feasibility of adding universal influenza vaccination to the already complex recommended pediatric schedule of vaccinations.

Sharon G. Humiston, M.D., M.P.H., of the University of Rochester, New York, and colleagues surveyed 458 pediatricians and family physicians nationwide (306 pediatricians, 152 family physicians) on the feasibility of universal influenza vaccination for children 12 through 35 months old. In February 2001, the researchers mailed the 20-item survey to a random sampling of 972 U.S. pediatricians and family physicians.

Of physicians surveyed, 80 percent of pediatricians and 69 percent of family physicians agreed that a universal influenza vaccination program for infants would be feasible. The majority of pediatricians and family physicians surveyed also agreed that universal vaccination would greatly decrease sickness during the influenza season (67 percent and 57 percent, respectively). When asked about vaccinating children as young as six months old, only 50 percent of pediatricians and 40 percent of family physicians felt a vaccination implementation program was viable.

Those surveyed noted some possible impediments: "Physicians considered the major barriers to implementation of universal influenza vaccination to be costs to practices and parents, parental concerns about vaccine safety, and the need for additional vaccinations or visits without the practices having reminder-recall capabilities, or efficient methods to handle the large volume of visits."

The authors conclude: "Physician beliefs in vaccine effectiveness, feasibility, and perceived parental interest in influenza vaccine all made it more likely that they would implement this recommendation."

Source: Eurekalert & others

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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