Flu Vaccination for Children and Parents Most Important

These age groups are most responsible for transmission

FRIDAY, Aug. 21 (HealthDay News) -- Schoolchildren and their parents should receive priority for flu vaccines (both seasonal and swine flu) because they are primarily responsible for transmission, according to a study published online Aug. 20 in Science.

Jan Medlock, Ph.D., and Alison P. Galvani, Ph.D., from Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn., developed an age-based model that incorporated survey-based contact data and mortality data from influenza pandemics to estimate optimal flu vaccine allocation based on deaths, infections, years of life lost, contingent valuation, and economic costs.

The researchers determined that schoolchildren 5 to 19 years old and adults 30 to 39 years old should have priority to receive the vaccine, because children are primarily responsible for transmission and for spreading infection to their parents' age groups. For seasonal flu, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently recommends vaccinating children 6 months to 18 years old and adults 50 years and older. For swine flu, the CDC recommends vaccinating children 6 months to 25 years old, the authors note.

"Our results indicate that consideration of age-specific transmission dynamics is paramount to the optimal allocation of influenza vaccines," Medlock and Galvani conclude. "We also found that previous and new CDC recommendations for both the novel swine-origin influenza, and particularly for seasonal influenza, are suboptimal for all outcome measures."

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