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CDC advisory panel says virtually everyone should get a seasonal flu shot

February 24, 2010 |  4:53 pm

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommended Wednesday that all Americans over the age of 6 months -- with the exception of those who are allergic to eggs -- should receive a seasonal flu shot every year, beginning this fall. The advice must be accepted by the CDC director and the Department of Health and Human Services before it becomes official, but that ratification is usually pro forma.

The CDC has been slowly broadening the recommendations for flu shots over the last few years to the point where about 85% of the population is now covered. The primary exception now is adults ages 19 to 49 who do not have underlying medical conditions. But the committee noted that many such adults do not realize they are at risk because of diabetes, hypertension or other hidden problems and do not seek the shots.

Normally, only about a third of Americans are immunized against the flu and many doses of the vaccine are left over. This year, because of heightened fears about the pandemic H1N1 influenza virus, 114 million people were immunized.  The CDC said new production facilities are coming online and there should be plenty of vaccine available in the fall.

The CDC has recommended that the swine flu virus be included as one of the three components in next year's seasonal flu vaccine.

-- Thomas H. Maugh II

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Comments (2)

Don't take vaccines from folks who say they want to sterilize you from the vaccines. I'm just sayin'!

Something to consider ...

December 18, 2009
Advisers on Vaccines Often Have Conflicts, Report Says
By GARDINER HARRIS

WASHINGTON — A new report finds that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did a poor job of screening medical experts for financial conflicts when it hired them to advise the agency on vaccine safety, officials said Thursday.

Most of the experts who served on advisory panels in 2007 to evaluate vaccines for flu and cervical cancer had potential conflicts that were never resolved, the report said. Some were legally barred from considering the issues but did so anyway.

In the report, expected to be released Friday, Daniel R. Levinson, the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services, found that the centers failed nearly every time to ensure that the experts adequately filled out forms confirming they were not being paid by companies with an interest in their decisions.

The report found that 64 percent of the advisers had potential conflicts of interest that were never identified or were left unresolved by the centers. Thirteen percent failed to have an appropriate conflicts form on file at the agency at all, which should have barred their participation in the meetings entirely, Mr. Levinson found. And 3 percent voted on matters that ethics officers had already barred them from considering.

The inspector general recommended that the centers do a far better job of screening. In a reply, the agency’s new director, Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, agreed.

“Since the period covered in this review, C.D.C. has strengthened the financial disclosures and conflict-of-interest process by instituting improved business processes and realigning responsibilities and oversight,” Dr. Frieden wrote.

As numerous medicines have been pulled from the market in recent years, worries have grown that experts may be recommending medical products — even ones they know to be unsafe — in part because manufacturers are paying them.

As a result, government agencies, medical societies and medical journals have become increasingly insistent that experts disclose potential conflicts. And while the experts invariably insist that they have done so, government audits routinely find large gaps between these disclosures and the experts’ actual income from consulting.

Congress tightened the rules on outside consulting after similar conflicts were found among members of advisory panels to the Food and Drug Administration. But little attention has been paid to the potential conflicts of advisers to the C.D.C., even though that agency’s committees have significant influence over what vaccines are sold in the United States, what tests are performed to detect cancer and how coal miners are protected.

Most of the advisers identified by Mr. Levinson had either a job or a grant from a company or other entity whose interests were affected by the committees’ discussions, and a considerable number also owned stock in such companies, the report said.

Representative Rosa DeLauro, a Connecticut Democrat who said she had long been a supporter of the C.D.C., said: “That is why I am so concerned about this report issued by the inspector general exposing serious ethics violations within the C.D.C. All members of the federal advisory committees, whose recommendations direct federal policy, should be without conflict of interest.”



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